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Iron absorption in patients with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome treated with long-term gastric acid antisecretory therapy.

BACKGROUND: Gastric acid secretion is important for absorption of dietary non-haem iron, and iron deficiency is common in gastric hyposecretory states such as after gastric resection. It is not known if prolonged, continuous treatment with potent acid suppressants such as omeprazole will lead to iron deficiency or lower body iron stores.

AIM: To assess iron stores and the occurrence of iron deficiency anaemia in patients with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (ZES) treated long-term with gastric antisecretory drugs.

METHODS: One hundred and nine patients with ZES but without previous gastric resections were studied. All patients underwent assessment of acid control on antisecretory agents, determination of tumour extent, evaluation of haematological parameters (Hct, haemoglobin, WBC, MCV, MCHC), and determination of serum iron parameters (iron, ferritin, transferrin, iron/ transferrin ratio). Acid control values for the last 4 years were reviewed, the presence or absence of acid hyposecretion determined using three different criteria and this result correlated with haematological and iron parameters.

RESULTS: Eighty-nine patients were taking omeprazole, nine patients were taking histamine H2-antagonists and 11 patients were taking no drugs following curative resection. The mean duration of omeprazole treatment was 5.7 years (range 0.7-12.5 years) and total duration of any treatment was 10.1 years (range 0.7-21 years). Acid hyposecretion was present by at least one criterion in 45% of patients. There were no significant differences between patients with or without acid hyposecretion, taking or not taking omeprazole, having different durations of omeprazole treatment or different durations of total time receiving any antisecretory treatment, for any serum iron parameter, haematological parameter, or for the frequency of iron deficiency. Males and females did not differ in percentage with low ferritin levels or percentage with iron deficiency.

CONCLUSIONS: Continuous treatment with omeprazole for 6 years or continuous treatment with any gastric antisecretory drug for 10 years does not cause decreased body iron stores or iron deficiency. These results suggest that, in contrast to recent results which show yearly monitoring of vitamin B12 in such patients is needed, such monitoring for iron parameters is not necessary.

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