Peoples' Pharmacy

Peoples's Pharmacy

January 19, 2007|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,

I saw part of a news story on TV that said people who take Nexium (and similar drugs) for a year or more are at greater risk of bone-density loss and have more bone fractures.

I have been taking Nexium for heartburn for almost a year and a half. I have had a knee replacement and a total hip replacement. I did not get the details of who did the study and how. I want to ask my gastroenterologist if I can stop taking Nexium, but I would like to be able to give him some details. Can you supply them?

The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Dec. 27). The scientists compared more than 13,000 cases of hip fracture to about 135,000 matched control patients in the United Kingdom.

They found that long-term use of drugs such as Aciphex (rabeprazole), Nexium (esomeprazole) or Prilosec (omeprazole) for more than a year increased the likelihood of hip fracture by more than 40 percent. Patients on high-dose heartburn medication were more than twice as likely to break a hip as those not taking such drugs. The investigators hypothesize that reducing stomach acid decreases calcium absorption and increases bone loss.

I am a 40-year-old man taking Toprol-XL for high blood pressure and Crestor for high cholesterol. Prior to starting on Toprol, I suffered from frequent debilitating and nauseating migraines for 10 years. I noticed that after starting Toprol, the frequency of my migraines decreased noticeably. Could the Toprol be responsible for this lifesaving benefit?

Indeed it could. Toprol (metoprolol) is a beta-blocker. This type of medicine is often used to treat heart problems or high blood pressure. It is also prescribed to prevent migraine headaches.

Can you confirm that drinking 3 quarts of lemonade daily may help prevent kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when calcium and oxalate in urine combine and make crystals. Making the urine less acidic can help cut this risk, and doctors may prescribe potassium citrate to lower urinary acidity.

People sometimes object, however, to taking a lot of potassium citrate pills. Investigators have reported that drinking 2 liters (just over 2 quarts) of lemonade daily worked nearly as well as potassium citrate tablets in changing urinary composition (Journal of Urology, September 1996).

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site:

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