London: A class of drugs that bring instant relief from heartburn could actually increase your chances of getting cancer, according to a study.
It suggests that if you take the drug, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), for more than a year - the risks can include infections, cancer and heart disease.
The drug are among the most widely prescribed in Britain - 43 million prescriptions for them were written last year, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
Taken about an hour before a meal, PPIs block the enzymes that make stomach acid so that you produce only about 10 percent of normal levels.
So when liquid from the stomach backs up into the gullet it doesn't cause that burning sensation. But lately a dark side to these drugs has been emerging.
Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: "Doctors need to be sure they are really necessary."
When PPIs first came out, the big hope was they'd cut rates of oesophageal cancer by reducing acid damage to the oesophagus from reflux. That hasn't happened, the Mail said.
Successfully controlling the symptoms of acid reflux with the drugs actually "increased" the risk of cancer rather than reducing it, the study published last year in the journal Archives of Surgery has found.