Popular Acid Reflux Medications & Liver Disease: What You Need To Know

acid refluxIf you live with heartburn or acid reflux, you are likely taking medication to manage it. Proton pump inhibitor (PPIs) drugs are medications that reduce gastric acid secretions, and include popular brand names such as Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid. Not only do PPIs kill and ingest microbes and suppress gastric acid secretions, but according to new research from University of California San Diego School of Medicine, they can also change intestinal bacteria which can promote the progression of liver disease.

According to the National Institute of Health, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects about 20% of the U.S. population. Drugs that treat this are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the world and can be easily obtained over the counter at your local drug store.

Approximately 6-15% percent of the general population take PPIs. Up to 32% with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and up to 72% of those with cirrhosis take the acid reducing drugs to block stomach acid secretions and relieve symptoms of frequent heartburn, acid reflux and GERD. So with the rising number of people with chronic liver disease in Western countries and liver cirrhosis as end-stage organ disease now the 12th leading cause of death worldwide, could this be a side effect of PPI medication use?


The UCSD study, published October 10 in Nature Communications, showed that PPI use increased the number of intestinal Enterococcus bacteria in mice. The translocating enterococci bacteria lead to liver inflammation and liver cell death. Notably, it was the expansion of intestinal Enterococcus faecalis (E. faecalis) which was enough to exacerbate alcohol-induced liver disease in mice.

PPI use increases the risk of developing…