A new study explains why prescription and over-the-counter medications for antacid and heartburn may increase the risk of bone fractures.
Researchers at the Forsyth Institute, an independent research organisation in the United States, found that stomach acid in the gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in helping the intestines absorb and transfer calcium to the skeletal system.
Taking proton pump inhibitor-based antacids brings relief to patients by reducing the level of acidity in the stomach, but this also interrupts and even stops the gut from absorbing calcium, the Forsyth Institute said.
The connection between proton pump inhibitors and bone fractures was already known. Previous research has indicated that these medications may block the absorption of important nutrients, but until this study it was not known exactly how or why this was happening in the body.
In the March issue of the medical research journal PLOS Genetics, the authors said their findings shed further light on the mechanisms governing the regulation of bone accrual by the gastrointestinal tract.
“The regulation of bone mass by the gastrointestinal tract represents a remarkable example of an unexpected and important relationship between these two systems that is only now becoming fully appreciated,” commented Dr. Ricardo Battaglino, one of the researchers. “It could help us better understand and find new ways to treat common clinical conditions that currently require medications which have been linked to weakened bones, such as popular antacids.”