Study shows zinc salts offer rapid relief from gastric reflux

Aug 24, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a study that could revolutionize how millions of people are treated for painful gastric acid-related diseases, a team led by Yale School of Medicine researchers has shown that zinc salts offer rapid, prolonged suppression of gastric acid secretion. Further, they do so without the side effects that sometimes accompany the use of the popular proton pump inhibitor (PPI) class of drugs. The paper appears online in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Up to 50 million Americans suffer from illnesses related to the overproduction of gastric acid secretion. One of the most common of these is gastric reflux disease, in which stomach acids back up into the esophagus, causing pain and potentially leading to esophageal lesions and cancer. Until now, , such as omeprazole and lansoprazole (marketed as Prilosec and Prevacid, respectively), have been the potent treatments of choice in inhibiting acid production. Unfortunately, as many as 74 percent of all patients on prolonged use of these agents have recurrent symptoms or “breakthrough” where they once again have signs of reflux.

But the Yale study shows that zinc salts can offer relief in much less time - sometimes minutes, compared with 24 to 36 hours for - and without recurrent symptoms or the of PPIs that may include headaches, diarrhea and dizziness.

The investigators were studying the interplay of ion transporters in the acid secretion process. In doing so, they discovered the by which zinc therapy might work, and how it inhibits acid secretion to potentially eradicate symptoms.

Researchers tested zinc therapy first on rats and isolated human glands, and then on healthy human volunteers. In both rats and humans, acid secretion was quickly and markedly reduced after oral ingestion of zinc. “Our study showed that, at the cellular level, zinc is a direct suppressor of gastric acid secretion,” said lead author John Geibel, M.D., D.Sc., professor of surgery and cellular and molecular physiology and vice chair of surgery at Yale School of Medicine. “This opens a promising new avenue of treatment for suffering patients, especially the many who continue to have symptoms of acid-related illness even after a standard dose of PPIs.”

Zinc is an important element for cell growth. But zinc levels fall in patients receiving long-term PPI therapy, and a decrease in cellular zinc levels can result in neuronal damage and digestive tract issues. “Taking zinc orally not only appears to work on its own, but may provide better, more long-lasting results when taken in conjunction with PPIs,” Geibel said.

He also explained why zinc may be better tolerated than PPIs. “ is an essential component of cell function, which may be why it produces fewer side effects than other commonly used acid-inhibitory drugs.”

Explore further: Poland suffers first cases of African swine fever in pigs

Related Stories

Acid-reducing medicines may lead to dependency

Jul 01, 2009

Treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for eight weeks induces acid-related symptoms like heartburn, acid regurgitation and dyspepsia once treatment is withdrawn in healthy individuals, according to a new study in Gastroenterology, th ...

Zinc transporters regulate pancreatic cancer

Nov 12, 2007

Zinc, an important trace element for healthy growth and development, can be related to pancreatic cancer. Too much ZIP4, a molecule that enables the transport of zinc into cells, promotes the growth and spread of pancreatic ...

Nonspecific marker of non-erosive reflux disease

Mar 30, 2010

Non-erosive reflux disease (NERD) is the most common disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. However, diagnosis of NERD is not objective. A research group in China investigated esophageal mucosal damage in response to various ...

Study shows zinc doesn't help head and neck cancer patients

Apr 02, 2007

Zinc sulfate, a supplement thought to be helpful in regaining the sense of taste for some head and neck cancer patients after radiation therapy, has been found to have no significant impact on preventing or curing taste alteration, ...

Recommended for you

Experts call for stepped-up hepatitis battle

19 minutes ago

The world can beat the cancer-causing disease hepatitis if it raises its game, but treatment programmes need to go hand in hand with those tackling the likes of HIV, experts said Thursday.

User comments : 0