Long-Term Nexium, Prilosec or Other Heartburn Drug Use May Increase Risk of Gastric Cancer: Study

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Amid mounting concerns about the potential side effects of Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid and other popular proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications, new research suggests that the long-term use of the heartburn drugs may increase the risk of gastric cancer. 

In a recent study published in the medical journal Gut, researchers from Hong Kong indicate that there may be a link between proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and gastric cancer.

An association was already suspected, particularly in those with Helicobacter pylori (HP) infections. However, the study found that the increased risk was there even after patients received HP infection treatment.

Researchers looked at data on more than 63,000 adults in Hong Kong from 2003 to 2012, finding 153 who developed gastric cancer during a median follow-up of 7.6 years. The study looked at the rates of gastric cancer among those who took PPIs and those who took another class of heartburn drugs, known as histamine-2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs), such as Zantac.

According to the findings, drugs like Nexium and Prilosec more than doubled the risk of gastric cancer, while the other heartburn drugs did not. 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.

Researchers determined that the absolute risk of gastric cancer with Nexium, Prilosec and other PPIs increased by 4.29 cases per 10,000 person-years when compared to those who did not use the medications.

“Long-term use of PPIs was still associated with an increased GC risk in subjects even after HP eradication therapy,” the researchers concluded.

Nexium, Prilosec Kidney Risks

This new study comes as a growing number of Nexium lawsuitsPrilosec lawsuitsPrevacid lawsuitsProtonix lawsuits and claims over other PPIs continue to be filed in courts nationwide, alleging that drug makers failed to adequately research the long-term risks associated with their heartburn drugs, or warn about the potentially life-threatening kidney injuries.

Since the drugs have been aggressively promoted without indication of any serious side effects, many users and doctors assume the medications are safe, and the medications are typically taken for long periods of time without any effort to reduce or stop the need for the medication. Experts have expressed concern that many users continue to take the drugs, even though there may be no real medical need any longer.

In recent years, serious questions have emerged about kidney risks associated with prescription and over-the-counter use of Nexium, Prilosec and other PPIs, with studies and adverse event reports identifying a potential increase in the risk of acute kidney injury, acute interstitial nephritis, chronic kidney damage and kidney failure.

In December 2014, the FDA required new warnings for the first time about a form of kidney damage associated with proton pump inhibitors, known as acute interstitial nephritis (AIN), which involves a sudden inflammation of the kidneys, which can lead to more severe problems.

More recent studies have highlighted the potential link between Nexium and kidney problems, suggesting that the popular drugs make also cause users to experience acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney failure, often resulting in the need for dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant.

Earlier this year, a study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine also found an increased risk of chronic kidney disease with the heartburn medications, indicating that users of Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI may be 50% more likely when compared to non-users.

These findings were supported by another study published in April 2016, in which researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs found that users of Nexium, Prilosec or other PPIs may be 96% more likely to develop kidney failure and 28% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease after five years of use.

As heartburn drug injury lawyers continue to review and file cases, it is ultimately expected that thousands of kidney injury cases may be filed in the coming months and years.

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.

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