Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are used to treat heartburn, ulcers, and symptoms of acid reflux. Recent studies have found an increased risk of developing stomach cancer if you take these drugs. PPIs include popular prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as Nexium (esomeprazole) and Prilosec (omeprazole). It was also found that people who used histamin-2 (H2) receptor antagonists, such as Tagamet (cimetidine) and Zantac (ranitidine), did not face the same risk. Further, the risk of developing stomach cancer with PPI use may have been known, or should have been anticipated, as far back as the 1980’s.
PPIs are heavily prescribed, some say very overprescribed, for the following purposes:
- Treat or prevent ulcers
- Treat H. pylori infection, in combination with antibiotics
- Treat symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux
- Heal erosion of the esophagus caused by acid reflux
- Treat Barrett’s esophagus
- Reduce acid production in Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
- Other conditions in which reduction of stomach acid is beneficial
But PPIs are not your only options. H2 inhibitors are another type of antacid, and they have not been linked to increased instances of stomach cancer.
Increased Risk of Stomach Cancer
Near the end of 2017 two studies were published showing an increased risk of stomach cancer in PPI users. The study published in the journal Gut found that users were more than twice as likely to develop stomach cancer and that the risk increased with long-term use. Another study published in BMJ Open found a threefold increase of stomach cancer cases people using PPIs and none in those using H2 blockers.
If you have developed stomach cancer after or while using PPI drugs, please talk to an experienced defective drug attorney right away to learn more about your rights.