Examining the risks of acid reflux medication

A long-time sufferer of acid reflux expresses concerns about the health effects of taking antacid medication. Dr. Keith Roach takes a closer look.



July 15, 2022 - 2:51 PM

Photo by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Pix4free

Dear Dr. Roach: I have been diagnosed with acid reflex for 20 years, but have never been on any antacid medication until recently, when my doctor prescribed Prilosec. My concern is whether it safe for long-term use. Is there an ingredient in Prilosec that causes cancer? — A.M.

Answer: No medicine is completely safe, but omeprazole (Prilosec) has been safely used for decades by many people. Long-term risks include an increased propensity to bacterial pneumonia; gastrointestinal infections, such as C. diff; and poor absorption of vitamin B12 and calcium. 

When this class of medications was first introduced, there was concern about an increase in a type of tumor called gastric carcinoid, based on laboratory animal studies. This has not been shown to be of concern in humans.

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