News Release

Forsyth research explains why popular antacids may increase chance of bone fractures

New study provides best explanation for side effect of prescription and over-the-counter heartburn medications used by 100 million Americans

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Forsyth Institute

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 26, 2015 - Newly published research from the Forsyth Institute details a discovery explaining why the 100 million Americans estimated to be taking prescription and over-the-counter antacid and heartburn medications may be at an increased risk of bone fractures.

The new report from Forsyth, published in the March issue of the prestigious medical research journal PLOS Genetics, explains that stomach acid in the gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in helping the intestines absorb and transfer calcium to the skeletal system. While the introduction of proton pump inhibitor-based antacids reduces the level of acidity in the stomach to bring relief to patients, the reduction also interrupts and even stops the gut from absorbing much needed calcium.

The connection between proton pump inhibitors and bone fractures has been well established, with the Food and Drug Administration in 2010 requiring a warning label placed on all product packaging. Other research has indicated these medications may block the absorption of important nutrients, but until this study it was not known how or why this was happening in the body.

"The regulation of bone mass by the gastrointestinal tract represents a remarkable example of an unexpected and important relationship between these two systems that is only now becoming fully appreciated," said Dr. Ricardo Battaglino of the Forsyth Institute. "It could help us better understand and find new ways to treat common clinical conditions that currently require medications which have been linked to weakened bones, such as popular antacids."

Over-the-counter and prescription antacids are used by 100 million Americans to treat heartburn and related conditions. It is the third highest selling drug category with $14 billion in annual sales according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Fractures at the hip, wrist, arm, ribs and even vertebrae - especially in individuals aged 50 and older - can permanently impair quality of life and result in an expensive drain on the American healthcare system.


This research study, titled "Osteopetrorickets due to Snx10 Deficiency Results from Both Failed Osteoclast Activity and Loss of Gastric Acid-dependent calcium Absorbtion," was conducted in mice by The Forsyth Institute and the published report is authored by Battaglino, Liang Ye, Lelsie R. Morse, Li Zhang, Hajime Sasaki, Jason C. Mills, Paul R. Odgren, Greg Sibbel, and Ariane Zamarioli. To learn more, visit

About The Forsyth Institute

Founded in 1910, the Forsyth Institute is the only independent research organization in the United States dedicated to understanding the important connections between oral health and overall wellness. Forsyth scientists are shaping the direction of personalized medicine through pioneering biomedical research and its direct application to new diagnostics, devices and therapies. Forsyth combines its expertise in oral and associated systemic diseases with a relentless drive to ask - and answer - critical questions about how to best alleviate daily health challenges for billions. Forsyth is a not-for-profit organization that is also committed to treating underserved populations in local communities and on a national and global scale. To learn more about Forsyth, visit

The Forsyth Institute
Jennifer Kelly, 617-892-8602

Matter Communications for The Forsyth Institute
Jim Baptiste, 978-518-4527

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