Stomach Acid Drugs Increase Osteoporosis and Hip Fractures
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Stomach Acid Drugs Increase Osteoporosis and Hip Fractures

A study from the University of Pennsylvania reported in the BBC News found that taking a class of drugs that reduce stomach acid, called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), for at least a year increased risk of hip fracture by 44%. Taking the drugs for longer periods further increased risk. Proton pump inhibitors include Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Zoton, Inhibitol, and others.

The study needs more work and questions remain, but this is not a surprising finding. The common practice of using proton pump inhibitors, as well as ordinary antacids, has long been identified in accepted studies to reduce calcium absorption.

Taking acid-reducing medicines contributes to other problems as well. You need stomach acid for health. Stomach acid is necessary to kill unhealthy germs and food-borne infection. Low stomach acid allows infectious organisms to grow in your system. Acid suppression is a known risk factor for traveler's diarrhea and other gastrointestinal illnesses. Although acid suppression is commonly used to treat ulcers, the resulting lack of stomach acid encourages overcolonization of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori that is associated with ulcers. H. pylori is not all bad, and has important functions in your system. But using acid suppression with H. pylori colonization present seems to be linked with an increase in the progression to gastric cancer.

What can you use for your stomach instead of acid-reducing medicines?

  • Pain, reflux, and constant burping are often a sign of low acid, not high acid. Drink a little apple cider vinegar in water and sprinkle balsamic vinegar, wine vinegar, or other vinegar that you prefer in your food.
  • Clinical trials indicate that the "good" yeasts and bacteria called probiotics in fermented food like sauerkraut and kimchi help control several diseases, such as reflux, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel.
  • Cabbage has been found in studies to be an effective antibacterial for stomach ulcers associated with Helicobacter pylori.
  • Broccoli sprouts have been found to specifically control H. pylori.
  • It is established in scientific studies in standard Western medicine that several spices have bacteria-inhibiting properties. Seasoning food with raw crushed garlic, onions, and fresh ginger root may inhibit strains of Helicobacter, E. coli, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus, without harming beneficial digestive bacteria.
  • Garlic, allspice, and oregano have been found to have action against "bad" bacteria, followed by thyme, cinnamon, tarragon, and cumin.
  • Capsicum, such as chilies and other hot peppers, have moderate antimicrobial action. White and black pepper, ginger, anise seed, celery seed, and lemon and lime juice follow.
  • Researchers at the University of Kansas found garlic, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, and sage kill E. coli.
  • Use ginger root to sooth stomach pain, rather than medicines.

To reduce risk of osteoporosis:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol.
  • Stop drinking colas. The high phosphorus content in both regular and diet colas are not good for your bones.
  • Avoid agents that reduce calcium absorption, such as antacids, and eating animal protein
  • Don't crash diet. Rapid weight loss is shown to lower hip bone density.
  • Check for wheat intolerance. People with Celiac, which is an autoimmune reaction to the protein in wheat, have higher rates of osteoporosis.
  • Read the post Exercise is More Important Than Calcium Supplements for Bones.
  • Avoid inactivity.

To build bone, stay active. Sedentary people lose bone even if they supplement with calcium. Exercise is the stimulus for bones to use the calcium. Get outside in the sunlight (sanely) for the several benefits of sublight not available in pills and supplements. Get fun movement and exercise outside, at least a little every day.

To build bone in your upper back and wrist (two of the three principal sites of osteoporosis):


To keep your hipbones dense and your hip joints mobile:

People with muscle and joint pain are frequently put on over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medicines. Several of these hurt the stomach lining. Acid-reducing medicines are often added to try to counter this problem. Along with the problems that acid suppression medicines can produce, a common, under-recognized side effect of acid suppression medicines is achy muscles and joints.

If stopping pain and helping your bones are New Year's Resolutions, reduce or stop the need for taking anti-inflammatories for joint pain by learning the healthy joint mechanics given throughout this blog. Often when people stop taking both their anti-inflammatories and stomach acid medicine, they feel better than when they were taking both together. You can stop your pain without medicine, then stop the need for the medicines so that your stomach, and your joints, can heal.


  • Nutrition for stomach, bones, and health for everyone, in the book Healthy Martial Arts.
  • Click labels under this post for more on each topic.


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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.