A study of over 80,000 people concluded that those taking Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) for heartburn, are far more likely to contract COVID-19 than those who are not.
The study, published in July of 2020 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, surveyed 86,602 respondents and asked them about their PPI use, and whether or not they have tested positive for COVID-19 or not. Individuals consuming these medications once per day were more than 200% likely to contract COVID-19 compared to those who took no PPIs. For those who took two PPIs per day, the evidence was even more compelling as their risk of contracting COVID-19 increased 300% compared to those not on the heartburn medications.
Does correlation mean causation?
Now, just because people on PPIs are contracting COVID-19 far more often, doesn’t mean PPIs are the reason for the increase. For instance, people on PPIs are presumably more likely to have poor diets so perhaps the poor diets are the real reason for the increase and not the PPIs.
However, researchers hypothesized an intriguing theory as to why PPIs are making people more likely to be vulnerable to COVID-19. PPIs are known to decrease acid in the stomach so much that they create a condition called hypochlorhydria. It’s well established that hypochlorhydria inhibits our ability to fight certain bacteria and viruses.
Other PPI concerns
Approximately 8% of adults in the U.S. take PPIs. Even the often pro-pharmaceutical website Webmd.com acknowledges that research on these drugs are tying them to scary health conditions like dementia, kidney disease and heart attacks. The package insert on PPIs warn that their product decreasing magnesium in the body. To read about why magnesium is so important, click here.
Shockingly, studies are coming out saying that more than half of individuals on PPIs have no legitimate reason to be on them. Furthermore, PPI use leads to an “addiction cycle” – not that the drugs themselves are chemically addictive, but rather, users become dependent on them because getting off them causes the body to make even more stomach acid than when they were prescribed the drug. This is known in the medical field as the “PPI rebound.” This vicious cycle leads people to remain on the drug for years, even though the drugs label suggests patients take the drug for no more than two months.
But don’t take my word for it, listen to the words of WebMD.com featuring John Cooke (MD & PhD), chair of Cardiovascular Disease Research at Houston Methodist Hospital.
“But (Dr. Cooke) points out that these drugs are often prescribed when people have no medical reason to be on them. One recent study of long-term care facilities in the Midwest found that 65% of people taking a PPI didn’t have any diagnosis that might explain why the drug was prescribed. And PPIs can be tough to quit. Stopping the meds often leads to a phenomenon called PPI rebound, which causes people to make even more stomach acid than they were before. That leads many to stay on them for years, though the drugs’ labels say patients should only take them for 4 to 8 weeks to help heal ulcers or control heartburn.”
Sources: https://www.clinicalcorrelations.org/2019/10/15/the-overuse-of-proton-pump-inhibitors-implications-for-prescribing-physicians/; https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/07/22/antacids-can-increase-risk-of-covid.aspx; https://journals.lww.com/ajg/Documents/AJG-20-1811_R1(PUBLISH%20AS%20WEBPART).pdf; https://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/news/20160608/proton-pump-inhibitor-health-risks#1