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Antacids – The Vicious Cycle
by Nicole Bandes

Two recent studies suggested there is a link to the use of prescription antacids such as Prilosec and Prevacid to ulcers and stomach cancer. For some of us, this isn’t news.

The studies built on the foundation that the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is responsible for most cases of stomach cancer. The studies discovered that the use of antacids may actually promote the growth of this and other bacteria.

Antacids are commonly prescribed and used to increase stomach pH (lower acidity) to fight ulceration of the stomach lining. It was once thought that this was the only cause of stomach ulcers. We now know that this isn’t true but medical doctors are a little slower to come around to this understanding.

Let’s take a look at how this works. John decides to go to the doctor because he is having stomach pains and acid reflux. His doctor, like the many millions of doctors out there, simply gives him a prescription for one of the popular drugs at the time and sends him on his way. John goes home, happy to be done with the symptoms. Everything seems to be going fine, though John has noticed a few side effects from the drug. Then, a few months or years later, John ends up in the emergency room with severe stomach pains. John has a severe bleeding ulcer and stomach cancer.

“But I have taken my prescription religiously!” John exclaims.

What John, and probably his doctor, didn’t consider is that the stomach produces acid to fight foreign invaders such as bacteria. When antacids are used to suppress the stomach acid, the bacteria are allowed to thrive. Our best efforts have done little more than offer the bacteria an environment to do more damage. Studies are now showing that this was the same bacteria that caused the problem in the first place.

It’s a viscous cycle.

What can be done?

1. Stop taking antacids. Consider that your symptoms are an indication that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Acid production is a necessary and normal occurrence.
2. Consider herbal alternatives to both kill the bacteria and control the symptoms.
3. As a last resort, talk to your doctor about prescription antibiotics to treat resilient strains of bacteria. Prescription antibiotics carry a whole other slate of problems and should only be considered when other paths have been exhausted.

You can stop contributing to the problem. You can see results you can live with.

Copyright© 2003, This article may be republished if a link back is provided to


Site last updated 9/12/16

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