A research team from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, suggests that women who take certain ulcer drugs have a small increased risk of hip fractures in later life, particularly if they smoke.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found a link between long-term use of proton pump inhibitors and bone fractures in smokers.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are used to treat heartburn, reflux and ulcers.
The research tracked almost 80,000 nurses in the US aged between 30 and 55.
They were followed up in later life to see how many had developed hip fractures after the menopause.
The researchers found that smokers or ex-smokers taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) had a 50% increased risk of hip fracture compared with women not taking the medication.
The experts wrote in the British Medical Journal: “Chronic use of PPIs is associated with increased risk of hip fracture, particularly among women with a history of smoking.”
Commenting on the study, Dr. John Stevenson, who sits on the medical advisory council of the British Menopause Society, said it had been suspected for some years that proton pump inhibitors increased the risk of hip fracture.
“This large study confirms that suspicion. However, the absolute risk is small, with the drugs causing an additional five hip fractures per 10,000 women per year.
“Women should not be put off using proton pump inhibitors if they are needed, but these results provide yet another reason not to smoke.”