Heartburn medications may be putting older women at greater risk for hip fractures, according to a study published this week in the British Medical Journal.
The study analyzed data from nearly 80,000 postmenopausal women who were enrolled in the U.S. Nurses Health Study from 2000 to 2008. The study is a long-term review of nurses’ medical records and questionnaires providing insight into health and lifestyle risks for women ranging from breast cancer to alcohol use.
The new analysis found that over the eight-year period, participants experienced 893 hip fractures. Researchers compared women who used a type of antacid known as proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, with women who used a milder antacid called H2 blockers, and found that women who used PPIs were 1.23 times at higher risk for hip fracture. The study also found that a woman’s risk for hip fracture returned to normal two years after she stopped taking PPIs.
This is not the first time PPIs have been linked to risk of hip fracture. In May 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that hip fractures may be linked to PPI use, but concluded that more research was needed. Other studies have been conducted looking at long-term use of PPIs and hip fractures, but the data lacked important details on diet and lifestyle.
The new analysis, conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, takes these lifestyle issues into consideration, covering menopausal status, body weight, physical activity levels, smoking, alcohol consumption, and use of calcium supplements.
PPIs are among the most widely used medications in the world, and sales for the drugs have increased in the United States after the FDA allowed them to be sold over-the-counter without a prescription.