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Consistently taking acid reflux drugs could increase risk for type 2 diabetes, study finds

Experts say consumers are at a higher risk the longer they take this type of medication

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Many consumers take proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to treat acid reflux, but a new study suggests that there are health risks associated with these medications. According to researchers, taking PPIs long-term can increase consumers’ risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

“Owing to wide usage, the overall number of diabetes cases associated with PPI use could be considerable,” the researchers explained. “For patients who have to receive long-term PPI treatment, screening for abnormal blood glucose and type 2 diabetes is recommended.” 

Risks of PPIs

The researchers analyzed responses from over 204,000 participants who were involved in three different studies: the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS), the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), and the NHS II. The participants reported on their health status and medication use every two years that they were involved in the studies. 

In looking strictly at those who were taking PPIs at least two times per week, the researchers identified a link between acid reflux drugs and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Even after accounting for several factors that could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes -- including diet, exercise, and using other medications  -- regularly taking PPIs increased the risk of diagnosis by nearly 25 percent. 

While the researchers found that participants could reduce their risk of diabetes by weaning themselves off of these types of medications, they also found that participants had a higher likelihood of developing diabetes the longer that they took the drugs. 

Because of how often these drugs are used, it’s important for consumers to be aware of the risks associated with taking them. Moving forward, the researchers recommend that consumers taking PPIs and medical professionals prescribing them pay close attention to blood sugar levels. 

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