Caution called on long-term use of PPIs
÷ Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a class of drugs commonly used to treat acid reflux, are among the most widely used medicines in Ireland. But now their long-term use is linked to a more than doubling in the risk of developing stomach cancer. ÷ The journal Gut reports that the risk rises in tandem with the dose and duration of treatment following elimination of Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria implicated in the development of stomach cancer, the findings show. ÷ Eliminating H pylori from the gut significantly lowers a person’s risk of developing stomach cancer. But a substantial proportion of those in whom treatment is successful still go on to develop the disease, the third leading cause of cancer death in the world. ÷ The average time between triple therapy and the development of stomach cancer was just under five years. ÷ It is an observational study with no evidence of cause and effect. But doctors are urged to exercise caution when prescribing long-term PPIs.