Kriss Kresser: Better ways to treat heartburn

A new study has found that regular use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are prescribed to treat acid reflux, is associated with a nearly 25 percent increase in the risk of developing diabetes.

This was an observational study, so it doesn’t prove that taking PPIs caused an increased risk of diabetes. But there are a few reasons to believe that the relationship might be causal:

  • They controlled for potentially confounding factors, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, sex, age, family history of diabetes, smoking, alcohol intake, diet, and regular use of anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • The risk of diabetes was highest in those who used PPIs for the longest time.
  • Other studies have shown that changes to gut bacteria may increase the risk of diabetes and that PPIs contribute to such changes.

This study adds to the enormous body of research linking long-term use of PPIs with a disturbingly wide variety of adverse effects, including:

  • Altered gut microbiota 
  • Impaired nutrient absorption
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular events
  • Kidney damage
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Rebound reflux

Despite this, PPIs remain among the most popular classes of prescribed drugs. In 2014, Americans filled more than 170 million prescriptions for acid blockers, falling behind only statins in total cost expenditure worldwide.

What’s more, PPIs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for only short-term use (two weeks). Yet many people have been taking these dangerous medications for years—and even decades. 

The good news is that Functional Medicine offers a “root-cause” approach to successfully preventing and reversing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and reflux. To learn more about this, you can download my free eBook here

In health,

Chris

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