Long-term Use of Drugs to Curb Acid Reflux Linked to Doubling in Stomach Cancer Risk


Source: British Medical Journal; The University of Hong Kong

Summary: Researchers found that long-term use of drugs (Proton Pump Inhibitors – PPIs) to treat acid reflex is linked to double the risk of developing stomach cancer.


A bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H.p) is commonly found in the stomach and previous findings show that it is implicated in the development of stomach cancer. Elimination of H.pylori from the gut reduces the risk of developing stomach cancer significantly. But those in whom treatment is successful still go on to develop the third leading cause of cancer death in the world. Researchers found that long-term use of Proton Pump Inhibitors – PPIs to treat acid reflex is linked to double the risk of developing stomach cancer, particularly in H.pylori infected patients even after H.p eradication therapy. The findings were published in the journal Gut.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Researchers compared PPIs use with another drug which is used to dampen down acid production called H2 blockers (Histamine H2 receptors antagonists) in 63,397 adults who had undergone triple therapy treatment – a combo of PPI and two antibiotics to kill off H.pylori over 7 days. What they observed was, using PPIs linked to double the risk of developing stomach cancer, while H2 blockers were not linked to any heightened risk. The average time was 5 years between triple therapy and development stomach cancer. And also observed that long-term use of PPIs is linked to some unwanted effects such as pneumonia, heart attack and bone fracture.

The “clear dose-response and time response trend” in PPIs use and risk of developing stomach cancer prompted the researchers to suggest that doctors should be careful while prescribing long-term PPIs even after successful eradication of H.pylori.


More Information: Ka Shing Cheung et al. “Long-term proton pump inhibitors and risk of gastric cancer development after treatment for Helicobacter pylori: a population-based study”, Gut (2017). DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2017-314605


 

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