Bone Health

How Antacids Can Lead to Bone Fractures

Researchers have discovered more evidence of how antacid and heartburn medications may cause an increased risk of bone fractures.

Investigators from the Forsyth Institute said that stomach acid in the gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in helping the intestines absorb and transfer calcium to the skeletal system. While the introduction of proton pump inhibitor-based antacids reduces the level of acidity in the stomach to bring relief to patients, the reduction also interrupts and even stops the gut from absorbing much needed calcium, according to a news release from the Institute.

Protein pump inhibitors are both prescription and over the counter. They include such widely known medicines as Prevacid, Nexium and Prilosec. This kind of medicine is taken by an estimated 100 million Americans.

The report was published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

The link between protein pump inhibitors and bone fractures is well known, and in the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that a warning label be placed on all packaging.

But until now, according to the news release, it was not known how or why this was happening in the body.

“The regulation of bone mass by the gastrointestinal tract represents a remarkable example of an unexpected and important relationship between these two systems that is only now becoming fully appreciated,” said Dr. Ricardo Battaglino. “It could help us better understand and find new ways to treat common clinical conditions that currently require medications which have been linked to weakened bones, such as popular antacids.”


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