The illness

According to a recent study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, individuals who take medications for conditions such as heartburn and gas may prone to infections with Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and Campylobacter bacteria. US Food and Drug Administration once warned of similar risks associated with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) back in 2012. (MROZ, 2017)

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of drugs function to reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach. They are commonly used to treat acid reflux and ulcers of the stomach the duodenum. They include lansoprazole, omeprazole and pantoprazole. (Knott, 2014)

In this study, the researchers looked at approximately 565,000 adults, and over 188,000 had been given at least one prescription for a PPI while the rest had no prescription for the drugs. The researchers found that “those on certain heartburn drugs had higher risks of infection with C. difficile and Campylobacter bacteria” . The study results indicated that, “on average, people on the drugs were roughly four times more likely to develop a Campylobacter infection.” (MROZ, 2017)

A professor of pharmacology at the University of Dundee in Scotland,  Dr. Thomas MacDonald, suspects that drugs that suppress stomach acids can change the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut, which may make people more susceptible to infections. Dr. David Bernstein, a gastroenterologist who was not involved in the study, agreed that stomach acid suppression could be the culprit. (HealthDay, 2017)

Although the study does not prove that these medications increase the risk of gastrointestinal infections, there is a plausible connection because the medications suppress stomach acids and impact the balance between the good and bad bacteria in the gut, making patients vulnerable to gut infections causing bacteria.  (MROZ, 2017)


MROZ, D. (2017) Heartburn medications dealt another blow by new study. Available at: (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

Knott, L. (2014) Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Stomach medication; Information. Available at: (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

HealthDay (2017) Heartburn drugs may raise risk of stomach infections: Study: MedlinePlus health news. Available at: (Accessed: 11 January 2017).



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