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Heartburn Drugs May Raise Fracture Risk in Older Women
Date:2/1/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Older women who take popular medications to control indigestion and heartburn may put themselves at higher risk for hip fractures, researchers report.

Long-term use of these drugs, called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), may increase that risk by 35 percent to 50 percent for current or former smokers, the researchers added. Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid are some examples of these medications.

"Although PPI use might be strongly indicated in some patients, at least for short-term use, we believe that clinicians should continue to carefully monitor the need for long-term use of these medications, specifically among postmenopausal women with a history of smoking," said lead researcher Dr. Hamed Khalili, a clinical and research fellow in gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

"Our data supports the recent decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to revise labeling of PPIs to incorporate concerns about a possible increase in risk of fractures with these drugs," he said.

The report was published in the Jan. 31 online edition of the BMJ.

For the study, Khalili's team collected data on almost 80,000 postmenopausal women. Over the course of eight years, from 2000 to 2008, almost 900 hip fractures occurred -- a 35 percent increased risk for women using PPIs compared to women who didn't take the drugs.

In absolute terms, the risk of hip fracture works out to about 2.02 fractures for every 1,000 person years for those taking PPIs, compared with 1.51 fractures per 1,000 person years. Person years are the number of years in a study multiplied by the number of people in the study.

The increased risk of fractures among women who smoked was even higher, reaching 50 percent, they added. The longer a women took a PPI, the more her risk increased, the researchers noted.

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