Heartburn Drugs Linked to B12 Deficiency

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports an association between the use of drugs that inhibit excess stomach acid and deficient levels of vitamin B12. The current study compared 25,956 men and women diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency over a four and a half year period with 184,199 subjects who were not deficient. Pharmacy records provided information concerning patients who were dispensed two year or greater supplies of proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) or histamine 2 receptor blocking drugs. Subjects who received PPI’s had a 65% greater risk of being diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency and those who received histamine 2 receptor blockers had a 25% greater risk than those who received neither drug. For those who used the highest dose of proton pump inhibitors, the risk of deficiency was nearly double that of those who didn’t use the drugs. The strength of the association decreased after the drugs were discontinued. (JAMA. 2013 Dec 11;310(22):2435-42.)