Acid Reflux Meds Tied to Liver Disease
Medications used to relieve symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can change specific bacteria in the digestive tract and promote liver injury and disease, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California - San Diego and published in Nature Communications.
According to researchers, stomach acid suppression promotes the growth of Enterococcus bacteria in the digestive system. When these bacteria translocate to the liver, they increase inflammation and worsen chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and steatohepatitis.
Overall, about 10 percent of people take medications to suppress stomach acid – called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – and that percentage may be as much as seven times higher in people with chronic liver disease. The drugs, which include brand names like Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the world.