Health & Diet

Heartburn Meds May Cause Iron Deficiency

By Wendy Haaf

Taking drugs to control your heartburn or acid reflux for two years or longer can leave you with an iron deficiency, according to study results published in the journal Gastroenterology.

That’s the take-away from a US study that compared the prescription records of 77,046 adult patients with new diagnoses of iron deficiency with those of nearly 390,000 controls; patients who had any pre-existing iron-deficiency risk factors were excluded.

Overall, 2.9% of men over age 50 and 6.9% of women in the same age group had iron deficiency. However, the use of either of two classes of stomach acid-suppressing medication (histamine-2-receptor blockers such as Zantac and proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Nexium and Losec) for two or more years was linked with a jump in the incidence of an iron shortfall. Suppressing the production of gastric acid can affect the body’s ability to absorb iron.

The good news is that incidence of iron deficiency decreased when patients stopped taking these two medications.

Photo: iStock/Juanmonino.