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Nexium And Other Heartburn Drugs Can Cause Hip Fractures

A study published in a recent edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that taking heartburn drugs like Nexium, Prilosec, or Prevacid for one year or longer can significantly increase the risk of experiencing a hip fracture in people over 50 years of age.

According to IMS Health, a corporation that tracks drug sales all over the world, Nexium is one of the most popular drugs in the world, second only to the cholesterol drug Lipitor. Sales of Nexium totaled $4.6 billion in 2005.

Clearly, millions of people who are currently taking Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, or any other drug in the same class of proton pump inhibitors need to carefully consider the decision to be on one of these drugs.

The authors of this study suggest that when proton pump inhibitors decrease the acid content of the stomach, the body may lose some of its ability to absorb calcium, which can potentially lead to weaker bones and teeth.

The study also indicates that another class of drugs that is used to suppress the discomfort of heartburn - known as H2 blockers - also poses a similar but smaller risk of paving the way to developing hip fractures. The most popular H2 blockers on the North American market are Tagamet and Pepcid.

Overall, the study took into account medical records of more than 145,000 patients in England. Those who used proton pump inhibitors for a year or more had a 44 percent higher risk of experiencing hip fractures compared to those who did not use one of these drugs; the higher the dose, the higher the risk of developing a hip fracture.

Natural Ways To Decrease Heartburn

The following are dietary and lifestyle measures that I have found to be helpful for many cases of chronic heartburn:

  1. Eat in a way that minimizes gas production. Bloating from gas production can put pressure on and weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, which usually leads to heartburn. The keys to minimizing gas production are:

    • Don't overeat
    • Chew your food until liquid
    • Avoid foods that your digestive system simply cannot tolerate - dairy is a problem for many non-Caucasians
  2. Avoid alcohol, especially hard liquor.
  3. Avoid excessive intake of caffeine.
  4. Avoid regular exposure to nicotine.
  5. Avoid regular intake of spicy foods.
  6. Wear loose, comfortable clothing around your chest, back, and abdomen.
  7. Spend time each day doing something that helps you experience a sense of inner calm and balance. Listening to soothing music or sitting in meditation or prayer are excellent options.

If your heartburn is being caused by a hiatal hernia (a condition where a portion of your stomach is pushing into your diaphragm and putting pressure on your esophagus), you may find the following article to be helpful:

Hiatal Hernia Treatment

Please share this article with friends or family members who are currently taking a drug for heartburn.


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Dr Kim,

I read your posting about heartburn drugs with interest, as I used to take Nexium, Pepcid, and most recently Ranitidine.

I'm surprised that you did not list Apple Cider Vinegar as a remedy/cure for recurring heartburn. When my chiropractor recommended I try it I was skeptical. I was taking Ranitidine twice a day. I stopped taking the med and instead took one tbs. of the vinegar when I felt the GERD coming on. After about one month I found I was taking the vinegar less and less. Now I have found Apple Cider Vinegar capsules and take them only when needed, which is about once a month.

I appreciate your newsletter and your time.

Jeff Parker

Dear Dr. Kim,

I’m a longtime fan of yours, and I would like to share with you an experience I had about 12 years ago which resulted in a virtually magic cure to heartburn caused by hiatal hernia – in 1995 a friend of mine gave me a copy of “Fit for Life” by Harvey & Marilyn Diamond, which changed my life completely.

I guess there’s no real need to read the book, though, since it can be summarized in a few words: “Eat fruit in the morning and don’t mix starch and animal protein (beef, cheese) in the same meal.”
That’s it. It’s that simple. After suffering from reflux for decades, it disappeared almost overnight. The funny thing is, I wasn’t told or was expecting it to happen.

Of the two principles, I think the second, not eating starch and beef in the same meal, is the key. The book explains why, but that’s for the scholars.

I tell you, that was a quite stressful period in my life, and yet those eating habits –which I still follow, because they also made me lose weight and feel more energized—cured me. Throwing away the prescription medicine that I’d been taking for years was a wonderful event, and one that I hope other people can also experience.

Please keep up with your wonderful work!
David, Buenos Aires