A popular type of heartburn medication may raise the risk of an early death for the millions of people worldwide that take it, research published last week suggests.
For every 1,000 people, there were an extra 45.2 deaths among those who took proton pump inhibitors like Nexium, Prilosec, omeprazole and prevacid, compared to those no on the drugs.
The new study, from scientists at Washington University, St Louis, is a follow-up to one the group did two years ago, first establishing general link between the popular drugs and early deaths.
Now, the team has discovered that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) put people at-risk for earlier deaths from heart disease, kidney disease and cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Popular proton pump inhibitors like Zegerid, Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid (clockwise) can be purchased over the counter to treat heartburn - but may raise your risk of an early death
More PPIs are prescribed worldwide than are any other class of drug.
They limit the stomach's production of acid in order to treat heartburn.
Since their invention in the last 1980s, the drugs have gained such popularity that they've come to be seen as harmless, warns lead study author Dr Ziyad Al-Aly, an epidemiologist and head research that the university's affiliate veterans affairs hospital.
'The misperception is that this is a safe class of medication,' he says.
Dr Al-Aly says that people think: '"I can get it without a prescription," so that creates the misperception that it's safe, but it's associationed with serious adverse events and also loss of life.'
They may fight heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and ulcers, but the drugs have also