Is That Antacid Killing You?
PBS's "GI Jane," Brenda Watson helps Americans with their plop, plop,
fiz, fiz problems.
Quick Fix Remedies
Clearwater, FL -- Antacids are quick-fix remedies taken by millions to help relieve
heartburn, acid reflux and other uncomfortable digestive problems. Americans spend
more than $3 billion a year on over-the-counter heartburn drugs, according to the
American Pharmacists Association, and more than $13 billion on prescription acid
There's a growing concern among physicians about the hidden dangers of heartburn
and many are now warning patients who have had severe gastric esophageal reflux
disease for several years that they shouldn't keep popping Tums, Pepcid or other
pills without seeing a doctor first. Heartburn seems to be driving the nation's
fastest-increasing type of cancer, a type of esophageal disease called adenocarcinoma.
The occurrences have jumped six-fold in the last 30 years and many suspect heartburn
is the culprit.
Stomach Acid: Too much? Too Little?
"People take antacids to lower the amount of acid in their stomach but many
are misdiagnosing themselves and shouldn't be taking antacids at all," says
Brenda Watson, author of, "The H.O.P.E. Formula," and "Gut Solutions,"
a series of books on digestive health. "Ninety percent of people with heartburn
or acid reflux symptoms actually don't have enough acid in their stomach."
Too little acid in the stomach, or what's known as hypochlorhydria, is more common
than most realize. Stomach acid production starts to naturally decline in your mid
30s, and by age 50, doctors say 50 percent of people will have the condition. Watson
recommends asking your physician for a "Heidelberg" test to determine
if your underlying problem is low or high acid.
Signs and symptoms of too
little acid include:
- Feeling hungry all the time;
- Gas, bloating, burping after meals;
- Bad breath;
- Low energy;
- Dilated capillaries in the cheeks and nose; and
- Iron deficiency.
"Many doctors don't test for it or know how to treat it, so acid blocking medications
are being over-prescribed in the same way antibiotics have been," says Watson.
"It's a big concern because hypochlorhydria can be reversed by changing your
diet. The condition should never lead to cancer."
Watson launched a crusade to educate Americans about problems affecting their gut
as a result of her own poor digestive health. She began hosting a PBS television
special airing nationwide called, Brenda Watson's H.O.P.E. Formula - The Ultimate
Health Secret. The program will expose Americans to the hidden dangers of
heartburn and acid reflux, IBS, ulcers and constipation; and what to do to eliminate
these health problems without drugs. Go to www.brendawatson.com for show times,
dates and more GI tips.