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Reflux and heartburn treatments depress body iron levels

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New research has found an association between some popular heartburn treatments and iron deficiency.

Heartburn is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux, which is caused by hydrochloric acid rising into the throat. This condition affects more than two million Australians and is often treated with medications that suppress acid secretion.

The collaboration between academics at the Universities of Melbourne, Utrecht and Maastricht was the first population-based study to find that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a class of acid suppressants that are widely prescribed for heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and peptic ulcers, are associated with iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anaemia, which affects about 2.2 billion people globally.

Dr An Duy Tran, a Senior Research Fellow at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, said PPIs could lead to iron malabsorption because acid was needed for iron absorption.

“Whether or not PPI use led to iron deficiency has long been inconclusive,” he said.

The study, published in published in Journal of Internal Medicine (, used data from more than 50 000 patients and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.