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Would You Like Some Pneumonia With Your Acid Blocker Pill?

Written by Wellness Club on August 5, 2009 – 6:01 pm -

By Nurse Mark


Regular readers are well aware that neither Dr. Myatt nor I have any good thoughts about the current state of conventional treatment for GERD or heartburn despite the fact that Big Pharma would have us believe that their patented drugs such as PPI’s (Proton Pump Inhibitors) like Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium are not only perfectly safe, but should be included in the diet of almost every human being. PPI’s are now being pushed for children, and even infants!

Well, it looks like the jig is up, and the cat is getting let out of the bag. Even conventional researchers are daring to stand up to the might of Big Pharma: Papers are being published calling into question the safety of these drugs and discussing some of the “unintended consequences” of their willy-nilly use.

Here is one such article (actually, this is not the full article – that would be mind-numbing and I wouldn’t do that to someone I like – this is just the abstract of the article) taken from the federal government’s National Institutes of Health website PubMed service:

Curr Drug Metab. 2009 Jan;10(1):84-9.

The effect of proton pump inhibitors on the human microbiota.

Vesper BJ, Jawdi A, Altman KW, Haines GK 3rd, Tao L, Radosevich JA.

Center for Molecular Biology of Oral Diseases, Department of Oral Biology, College of Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are commonly used to treat acid-related diseases, most notably gastroesophageal reflux disease. PPIs are designed to shut down the gastric proton pump (H+/K+-ATPase) of parietal cells, thereby raising the pH of the stomach. While effective, a number of side effects have been associated with PPI use. Naturally occurring bacteria, some of which are acid-producing and contain ATPase enzymes, have also been found within the stomach, upper gastrointestinal tract, and oral cavity. Likewise, a number of fungi are known to inhabit the human body; some of these fungi contain H+-ATPase enzymes. Recent literature has suggested that PPIs may be inadvertently affecting these bacteria and fungi in two different ways: 1) PPIs may directly target the proton pumps of the bacteria and fungi, and/or 2) PPIs may indirectly affect the microenvironment of the flora via changes in pH. These unintended interactions are exasperated by the systemic distribution of PPIs throughout the body and may potentially lead to some of the side effects observed with PPI use. Herein we summarize what is currently known about the interactions between the PPIs and the natural human microbiota.

PMID: 19149516 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

I’m guessing that Big Pharma is not happy about this article… but what does it mean? What’s the bottom line?

Well, it means that these PPI’s are messing with bacteria and fungus that normally and naturally inhabit our bodies (but are normally kept in check) by 1) affecting the bacteria and fungi directly, presumably making it easier for them to grow and 2) affecting the normal pH of our bodies that helps to suppress the growth (or expression in medspeak) of these bugs.

Why should we care? Because this is resulting in some very serious increases in the rates of pneumonia in people taking these drugs!

Consider the following conclusion drawn by a noted (conventional) researcher and published in JAMA – The Journal of the American Medical Association (not a place that you would expect to find something this critical of the offerings of Big Pharma!).

Conclusions:  In this large, hospital-based pharmacoepidemiologic cohort, acid-suppressive medication use was associated with 30% increased odds of hospital-acquired pneumonia.

Source: Acid-Suppressive Medication Use and the Risk for Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia
Shoshana J. Herzig, MD; Michael D. Howell, MD, MPH; Long H. Ngo, PhD; Edward R. Marcantonio, MD, SM
JAMA. 2009;301(20):2120-2128.

Folks, that is how I would like my odds to run if I were playing the slots in Las Vegas – but not if I was trying to avoid getting a pneumonia!

We’ve said it before in HealthBeat News articles (see Help – I’m Hooked On Acid Blocking Drugs! ) – these drugs are nasty: they are dangerous, addictive, and just plain bad medicine. Now we have research that shows that these drugs are acting like “fertilizer” for bacteria and fungus that can cause pneumonia and other serious, even life-threatening illnesses.

It looks like maybe conventional medicine is beginning to wake up to these facts too.

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