It is estimated that 100 million Americans take prescription and over counter antacid heartburn medication. These products are the third highest selling drug category generating $14 billion in annual sales. A study published in the PLOS Genetics journal has revealed that stomach acid regulates the absorption of calcium to the skeletal system.
Introducing antacids into the digestive system reduces the level of acidity in the stomach but also stops the gut from absorbing calcium. The link between antacids and an increased risk of fractures was recognized in 2010 by the Food and Drug Administration as they mandated a warning label on products. However, the exact metabolic pathway has not been documented.
“The regulation of bone mass by the gastrointestinal tract represents a remarkable example of an unexpected and important relationship between these two systems that is only now becoming fully appreciated,” said Dr. Ricardo Battaglino of the Forsyth Institute. “It could help us better understand and find new ways to treat common clinical conditions that currently require medications which have been linked to weakened bones, such as popular antacids.”
Liang Ye, Leslie R. Morse, Li Zhang, Hajime Sasaki, Jason C. Mills, Paul R. Odgren, Greg Sibbel, James R. L. Stanley, Gee Wong, Ariane Zamarioli, Ricardo A. Battaglino. Osteopetrorickets due to Snx10 Deficiency Results from Both Failed Osteoclast Activity and Loss of Gastric Acid-dependent calcium Absorbtion. Plos Genetics, March 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005057