Did you know that drugs used to treat heartburn can cause serious side effects, and worse yet, the longer you use them, the worse off you could be…
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, also known as GERD, is one of our society’s most common health complaints with one in ten Americans having daily episodes of heartburn.
Researchers estimate that GERD is experienced by 25%-35% of the population which makes Proton Pump Inhibitors, a popular medication used to treat GERD, the third best-selling class of drug.
There is mounting evidence that drug treatment for GERD does not come without potentially serious risk. Such studies suggest that these drugs increase the risk of osteoporosis, depression, serious digestive tract infection, irritable bowel disease and nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin B12 as well as important minerals. Although research has demonstrated these potential consequences, it does not take a multi-million dollar study to be able to reason that medications that interfere with acid secretion in the stomach will also interrupt nutrient absorption while making it easier for harmful organisms such as C. difficile to grow and cause havoc in our digestive tracts.
GERD occurs when the digestive juices back up into the esophagus which results in an irritation to the fragile lining of the esophagus. The chronic irritation to the esophagus potentially results in a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus and then, left unchecked, to esophageal cancer.
This process of progression sounds horrible and, drug companies would have you believe, imminent if left untreated. Research, however, does not support this seemingly rational and unquestionable connection.
In fact, a recent review of the data suggests that the connection between GERD and Barrett’s esophagus is so weak that the reviewing scientists felt that the widespread practice of screening patients with GERD using endoscopy was not warranted.
Other researchers found that patients who were suffering with nighttime symptoms, as well as obese patients, were at a higher likelihood of having GERD progress to Barrett’s and ultimately to cancer. These patients may be the ones who require endoscopy as a screening tool.
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