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: Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

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

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

9 hours ago

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Tracking flu levels with Wikipedia

9 hours ago

Can monitoring Wikipedia hits show how many people have the flu? Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, USA, have developed a method of estimating levels of influenza-like illness in the American population by analysing ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

Men who show signs of chronic inflammation in non-cancerous prostate tissue may have nearly twice the risk of actually having prostate cancer than those with no inflammation, according to results of a new study led by researchers ...

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...