Health scare of the week
Heartburn drugs and allergies
Taking commonly prescribed medication to relieve heartburn and ulcers may increase your risk of developing allergies. Scientists at the Medical University of Vienna looked at health data for more than 8 million people in Austria—almost the entire population—over four years. They found that those who had been prescribed stomach-acid inhibitors, such as proton-pump inhibitors and H2 blockers, were twice as likely to subsequently receive prescriptions for anti-allergy drugs. The risk appeared particularly high in women and people ages 60 and over. “There have been mouse studies, cellular studies, and clinical observations” of the same link, study author Erika Jensen-Jarolim tells The Guardian (U.K.). “This is the last brick in the whole picture.” The findings suggest that disruptions to the stomach’s balance of acids and enzymes can trigger allergies that the person didn’t previously suffer. It’s unclear why this imbalance might have such an effect; one theory is that reduced stomach acid allows undigested food to escape into the intestine, where it is then treated as a threat by the immune system.