Study finds common antacids may help people with diabetes

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A new study found that certain antacids may improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Antacids called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) appear to be safe in people with diabetes.

However, earlier research found that long-term use of PPIs may be associated with health issues, including nutrient deficiencies, cognitive decline, and an increased risk of kidney disease.

A study published this month in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that certain over-the-counter (OTC) proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a type of antacid, may improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

The meta-analysis reviewed 12 studies on glycemic control and diabetes and found that PPIs, taken as an add-on to standard treatment, appeared more effective at lowering glucose levels than standard therapy alone.

PPIs appeared to be safe in people with diabetes, but preexisting research suggests that long-term use of PPIs may be associated with nutrient deficiencies, cognitive decline, and an increased risk of kidney disease.

Health experts agree that more research is needed to better understand if and how PPIs could be used to improve blood sugar levels.

“Unless the patient has a gastrointestinal indication to be on antacids, I would not recommend starting antacids purely with the hope that it will help diabetes,” said Dr. Marilyn Tan, an endocrinologist with Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California.

If a patient with diabetes needs PPIs for gastrointestinal issues, “the patient and the physician should feel comfortable starting the PPI without worrying that it will significantly worsen diabetes,” Tan said.

To determine the effect of OTC PPIs on blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, the researchers evaluated seven studies on glycemic control and five studies on the risk of diabetes.

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