Does omeprazole cause cancer?

Overview of Omeprazole

Omeprazole (Prilosec) is a prescription and over-the-counter acid-reduction medicine. Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor that works by blocking the stomach’s capacity to release acid. Omeprazole is a drug that is used to treat heartburn, symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), erosive esophagitis, gastric ulcers, duodenal ulcers, Helicobacter pylori infections of the stomach lining, and rare medical conditions like Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, which cause excessive stomach acid production.

Although omeprazole is available without a prescription, it has a number of negative side effects, some of which are fairly serious. A thorough examination of side effects, warnings, contraindications, and drug interactions can you in determining whether omeprazole is the appropriate medication for you.

Common side effects of omeprazole

The following are the most prevalent omeprazole side effects:

  • Headache
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Flatulence
  • Infection of the upper respiratory tract
  • Constipation

To treat H. pylori infection of the stomach lining, which is linked to gastritis (stomach lining irritation) and ulcer formation, omeprazole is occasionally coupled with the medicines clarithromycin and amoxicillin. The following are the most prevalent side effects of omeprazole combo treatments when used with these antibiotics:

  • Changes in taste due to diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Discoloration of the tongue
  • Congestion in the nose

Serious side effects of omeprazole

Omeprazole has a small number of serious adverse effects, which include:


  • Clostridium difficile infection: difficile is a bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea and fever in the intestines.
  • Liver disease: Omeprazole can affect liver function and cause liver disease, tissue death, or potentially catastrophic liver failure.
  • Lupus: Omeprazole has been linked to the beginning or exacerbation of lupus erythematosus, an inflammatory disease characterized by a rash and redness of the skin.
  • Allergic reactions: Anaphylaxis, rapid skin swelling (angioedema), severe skin reactions, problems breathing, and swelling in the kidney’s filtration tubes are examples of allergic reactions that can range from mild to severe (interstitial nephritis).

Cancer and PPI (proton pump inhibitor)

The stomach breaks down food with gastric acid when digesting it. G cells in the stomach create a hormone called gastrin, which instructs other cells to pump acid throughout this process. PPIs prevent the production of acid.

The body recognizes that there isn’t enough acid and strives to produce more by increasing gastrin production. It has been discovered that too much gastrin promotes the growth of gastrointestinal cancers.

According to several research, PPIs suppress stomach acid, resulting in:

  • Gastrin levels that be too high
  • The stomach lining is inflamed.
  • Overgrowth of bacteria

This, in turn, could contribute to the development of gastrointestinal cancer.

Even if helicobacter pylori infection was cured, long-term use of PPIs was linked to a twofold increased risk of stomach cancer, according to a 2019 study.

Should I Stop Using Prilosec (Omeprazole)?

PPIs such as lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec) are accessible without a prescription over the counter. Long-term use, however, can be hazardous.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that over-the-counter (OTC) PPIs be used only three times a year for a 14-day course.


H2 blocker medicines, such as Pepcid or Tagamet, may be appropriate in some circumstances. The PPIs will be out of the system after a week of taking an H2 blocker instead of PPIs. After that, you can use over-the-counter antacids as needed.

Some patients, however, may continue to have unpleasant symptoms after discontinuing PPIs and may need to reintroduce them at a greater dose.

Patients on PPIs should speak with their healthcare provider whether they should continue taking the prescription or if other options are available before making any changes to their drugs or dosages.

How long do the side effects of omeprazole last?

Because omeprazole clears the body in a few hours, many negative effects will fade. Because omeprazole’s effects on the stomach lining normally last three or more days, some gastrointestinal side effects may continue for a few days after you stop taking it. Taste perversions and tongue discolouration produced by taking omeprazole with antibiotics will go away if the medicines are stopped for a few days. However, serious omeprazole adverse effects such as bone loss, low white blood cell counts, liver disease, and kidney difficulties may take longer to resolve. Notify your healthcare practitioner if you experience any side effects.

Alternatives to PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors)

Although PPIs are the most commonly prescribed drug in the United States, there are other choices. Lifestyle changes, alternative therapy, and other drugs are examples of these.

Other Medications

In the treatment of disorders like acid reflux, different drugs can be utilized instead of PPIs.

H2 blockers are drugs that prevent the stomach from producing hydrochloric acid. They’re fast absorbed, and the consequent acid suppression lasts for several hours after you’ve taken them. H2 blockers can also help with heartburn by reducing the acid’s effect on the esophagus.

H2 blockers include the following:

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Nizatidine (Axid)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid)

In some circumstances, antacids may be necessary. These medications operate by balancing stomach acid. They are the oldest heartburn therapy available. The majority of antacids contain a combination of aluminum and magnesium hydroxide. Sodium bicarbonate may also be present in some.

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Alternative Therapy

Alternative therapies that could be beneficial as a substitute for PPIs include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Herbal treatments

The following herbal therapies may be beneficial:

  • Chamomile: Chamomile tea can help with digestion, but those who are allergic to ragweed should avoid it.
  • Licorice is thought to aid in the coating of the esophagus, which protects it from stomach acid irritation.
  • Ginger has been used for generations to help with digestion and as a heartburn cure.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to drugs, lifestyle changes can sometimes help with PPI-treated illnesses like acid reflux or GERD.

Changes in your lifestyle may be beneficial, such as:

  • Foods that are spicy, greasy, or acidic should be avoided.
  • Getting in Shape
  • Smoking cessation
  • Eating more frequent little meals
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Raising the head of the bed at night to get a better night’s sleep

Citrus, chocolate, mints, coffee, wine, and tomato-based products are all foods and drinks that can cause reflux.


There are a variety of steps that may be followed to help prevent acid reflux and GERD, as well as the requirement for drugs.

The following are some techniques to avoid acid reflux or GERD in the first place:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight can make acid reflux and GERD more likely. Losing weight if you’re overweight, as well as keeping a healthy weight, can assist you avoid this.
  • Don’t smoke: Nicotine, a component of tobacco, is what makes it addicting. Nicotine is thought to relax the esophageal sphincter, which can cause reflux or heartburn.
  • Certain foods and beverages should be avoided: As previously said, avoiding spicy, fatty, or triggering foods and beverages such as tomatoes, mint, or coffee can assist to prevent reflux.
  • Carbonated beverages should be avoided: Burping, which transports acid to the esophagus, can be caused by bubbly drinks like soda and sparkling water. Water and other flat liquids will help avoid this.
  • Stay upright after eating: Sitting or standing upright after eating helps to keep stomach acid in check. Reflux can be avoided by eating three hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise or workouts that need bending over after eating: Acid can ascend to the esophagus during vigorous exercise or workouts that require bending over. After eating, wait a couple of hours before working out hard.
  • Sleep with your head elevated: Your head should be six to eight inches higher than your feet when you’re sleeping. This can be accomplished by using a foam wedge to support the upper body or by placing bed risers on the bed’s legs near the head.
  • Examine your medications: Some medications can cause reflux by relaxing the sphincter. Others have the potential to irritate the esophagus. Before quitting or modifying any drugs, always with your healthcare provider.

Omeprazole warnings and contraindications

When administered for a short period of time, omeprazole and other proton pump inhibitors are effective drugs with little adverse effects. Omeprazole, on the other hand, may not be right for everyone, especially when used long-term.


If you’re unsure about whether proton pump inhibitors are right for you, talk to your doctor. If you’ve been taking these meds for a while, it’s crucial not to stop taking them suddenly. Alternatives to PPIs may be suggested by your healthcare professional if it is acceptable. Uncontrolled GERD can offer major health risks, therefore it’s critical that it’s controlled and monitored by a healthcare expert.

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Does omeprazole cause cancer?