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New research raises further concerns about the potential side effects of heartburn drugs like Nexium, Protonix, Prilosec and others, indicating that they may increase tumor growth and interfere with some cancer treatments, decreasing the odds of survival.
In a study published last week in the International Journal of Cancer, Danish researchers warn that doctors may want to rethink the use of some proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) as a supplement to cancer therapy, indicating that the individuals may not only face an increased risk of death, but that they actually saw increased tumor growth in mice exposed to Protonix (pantoprazole), specifically.
Researchers noted that heartburn drugs are often prescribed to cancer patients who have undergone therapy, but that the practice has come about with little data on their actual impact on cancer mortality. In this study, researchers looked at data on about 350,000 cancer patients. Some of those patients used PPIs, some used other types of heartburn drugs and some used no heartburn medications.
According to the findings, the risk of dying from cancer increased 29% among patients using Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix and similar drugs. The highest risk of death came from ovarian cancer, which was 35% higher when proton pump inhibitors were taken. The lowest risk was linked to oesophageal cancer, which decreased slightly when patients took PPIs.
Researchers noted that the association was strongest with patients prescribed PPI drugs after a cancer diagnosis. However, the researchers also specifically looked at the effects of Protonix on tumor growth in mice, finding that it appeared to enhance tumor growth. In some cases it also appeared to reduce the anti-tumor effects of some cancer drugs, including doxorubicin and gemcitabine.
“Taken together, these data raise concerns about the increasing use of PPIs and calls for further studies addressing their safety among cancer patients,” the researchers warned.
The study comes several months after other researchers warned late last year about a possible link between PPI heartburn drugs and gastric cancer, particularly among those with H. pylori infections. That study found that there was an increased risk of stomach cancer even after patients received H. pylori infection treatments.
According to those findings, users of Nexium, Prilosec and other similar PPIs faced more than double the risk of developing stomach cancer, while other types of heartburn drugs did not carry the same potential side effects. The study also found that the risk of PPI-associated gastric cancer kept increasing the longer people used the drugs. After three years of use, the risk was increased more than eight-fold.
In separate findings published earlier this month in The Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences, researchers found that Nexium and other PPI may actually inhibit treatment for helicobacter pylori, which can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Nexium, Protonix Lawsuits
Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid, Dexilant and other PPI are widely marketed as safe and effective, leading most users to continue taking the medications for years, even when there is little medical need. However, a number of recent studies have highlighted serious health risks associated with the use of PPI, including acute kidney injuries, chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.
There are currently several thousand Nexium lawsuits, Protonix lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits, Prevacid lawsuits and claims over other PPIs pending in courts nationwide, each raising similar allegations that the drug makers failed to adequately warn about the risk of kidney damage associated with the long-term use of the medications.
With the growing evidence about the potential risk of stomach cancer from Nexium, Protonix, Prilosec and other PPI, it is likely that a new category for the litigation may begin to emerge.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, consolidated pretrial proceedings have been established in the federal court system, where all lawsuits are centralized before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in the District of New Jersey to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
As heartburn drug kidney injury lawyers continue to review and file lawsuits against the manufacturers for failure to warn about potential risks associated with the medications, it is ultimately expected that the number of kidney injury cases will rapidly increase in the coming months and years.