Dr. Weil describes the long-term risk factors associated with antacid use.
Antacids are--I don’t want to talk about antacids. Antacids are things like Tums and Rolaids®--those are okay in moderation, but the concern today is about these prescribed and over-the-counter drugs that inhibit acid production in the stomach. These are very powerful drugs. They are not intended for long-term use. They are widely given out for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and other digestive problems.
I think there are so many risks associated with them. They block absorption of key nutrients, including calcium for example. They may increase the risk of stomach cancer. They may increase the risk of other kinds of chronic GI conditions. Stomach acid is our main defense against infection that comes in by the oral route, so if you are walking around with no acid in your stomach, you are at greatly increased risk of serious infection that you get exposed to that way.
They probably increase risk of osteoporosis in women. So I think we are going to hear more and more research about the dangers of these acid suppressive drugs.
About Dr. Weil, M.D.:
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., was born in Philadelphia in 1942, received an A.B. degree in biology (botany) from Harvard in 1964 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1968. After completing a medical internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, he worked a year with the National Institute of Mental Health before writing his first book, The Natural Mind. From 1971-75, as a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Dr. Weil traveled widely in North and South America and Africa collecting information on drug use in other cultures, medicinal plants, and alternative methods of treating disease. From 1971-84 he was on the research staff of the Harvard Botanical Museum and conducted investigations of medicinal and psychoactive plants.