JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Personal review: alarmism or legitimate concerns about long-term suppression of gastric acid secretion?

N D Yeomans, J Dent
Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 2000, 14 (3): 267-71
10735918
This article responds to controversial issues about the long-term use of acid suppression raised in a recent article in this journal by Waldum & Brenna. Although rebound acid secretion occurs following proton pump inhibitor therapy, the clinical significance of this is unclear, but the proposal that this is a major driver of acid-related diseases is considered implausible. The polypoid deformity of the gastric corpus that can occur with long-term proton pump inhibitor therapy is not neoplastic, and therefore has no bearing on other issues raised about proton pump inhibitor therapy and gastric malignancy. Current data in humans suggest that the magnitude of serum gastrin elevation from proton pump inhibitor treatment of up to 10 years, and any theoretical risks from this, have been overstated by Waldum & Brenna. Pernicious anaemia is a model of very doubtful validity for the risks of proton pump inhibitor therapy on several grounds. The proposal that diffuse gastric carcinoma arises from acid suppression-induced stimulation of enterochromaffin-like cells is challenged vigorously, because this is based on an implausible and substantially criticized interpretation of histopathology. It is agreed that it is appropriate to be cautious about the safety of long-term acid suppression, because no data are available for lifelong treatment in humans. Such caution should be tempered by a critical assessment of the benefits of this treatment in relation to any possible risks. The substantial data that now exist from long-term treatment of humans with proton pump inhibitors has not thus far revealed any definite risks. The risk of death from anti-reflux surgery, although small, would seem to far exceed any possible risks associated with long-term proton pump inhibitor use. Available data suggest that denial of the benefits of effective acid suppressant therapy to patients with clear-cut troublesome acid related disorders is an overreaction to concerns about the biological effects of inhibiting acid secretion with proton pump inhibitors.

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