Menschliche NierenDigestive health has become an increasingly more common discussion between patients and doctors over the past decade or more. Many of these discussions are exchanges of information about heartburn and indigestion, which has led to more diagnoses of conditions like acid reflux, or Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD is a condition characterize by excess stomach acid that results in persistent heartburn. More importantly, the condition can lead to scarring of the esophagus and even increased risk for cancers of the stomach and esophagus.

So, when drug researchers developed the proton pump inhibitor (PPI), it was largely seen as a godsend for those who suffer from this consistently uncomfortable condition. These medications act on the body by telling the stomach to produce less natural acid, which eases the pain of heartburn (and thus, supposedly, lowering risk for those cancers).

“When PPIs first came out they were thought of as a miracle drug with no associated side effects,” said Adam Jacob Schoenfeld, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, who wrote an editorial accompanying the latest research.

But a new study suggests that the wide prescription of these drugs (perhaps even overprescription) has led to higher instances of chronic kidney disease. This study looked at a community of 10,000 patients—with a median age of years—had a baseline PPI use independently associated with an increased risk for chronic kidney disease between a 20% and 50%.

PPI medications carry labels like Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid. They are different than H2 receptor medications (like Pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac) which are considered to be safer.

The researchers explain the findings: “The risk was specific to PPI medications because the use of H2 receptor antagonists, which are prescribed for the same inaction as PPIs, was not independently associated with CKD.”

While this information is certainly pertinent today it is perhaps even more important because other studies actually suggest that as many as 70 percent of prescriptions for PPI (in the United States, at least) have not been appropriately assocatedd with any of the clinical medical indications.

Schoenfield continues, “Over the years evidence has emerged which shows pretty convincingly that their use is probably associated with a number of side effects, even though these side effects are rare. There is no doubt that people with severe GERD benefit, but there is also no doubt that these drugs are overprescribed.”

[graphiq id=”66LqDC3kGZD” title=”Chronic Kidney Disease Overview” width=”600″ height=”942″ url=”” link=”” link_text=”Chronic Kidney Disease Overview | HealthGrove”]