I was shocked the other day when I saw an ad on TV for Procter and Gamble's new Children's Pepto-Bismol. Not just because of the problems it can cause for children, but also for you.
Like other children's antacids, this one is geared to youngsters who complain of tummy aches and heartburn. It comes in bubble gum and watermelon flavors so that children will like the way it tastes and get in the habit of taking it.
Proctor and Gamble's new product will get children used to reaching for a medication rather than a digestive enzyme. They're being programmed to take a yummy-tasting product that blocks their absorption of important nutrients instead of thinking about what they ate so they won't do it again.
Acid-neutralizers, such as Pepto-Bismol, block the absorption of calcium – desperately needed in young children whose bones are growing. That's not all. Stomach acid is needed to utilize magnesium, iron, and to digest proteins. Giving children an antacid is a bad idea.
And taking antacids is especially dangerous at this time of the year. A Dutch study of more than 350,000 people found that using antacids over a long period of time increases your risk for pneumonia. Stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) kills bacteria in the stomach. When you lower this acid, more bacteria survive. Some are pathogenic (harmful).
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Robert J.F. Laheij, the author of this study, points out that taking these drugs can also lead to bronchitis and the flu. Giving children acid-neutralizers can lower their resistance to common viruses now and have far-reaching implications for their future health.
So what effect do these common drugs have on an adult's health? The same. They also increase your risk for flu and lung problems. And, although your bones have stopped growing, they are living tissue that continuously breaks down and rebuilds. You need to absorb sufficient calcium and magnesium for strong, healthy bones. Taking antacids regularly is a bad idea for you as well.
I've written a number of articles on heartburn and digestive problems over the years. They contain natural solutions that work quickly and are safe. All of them are available on my website and free to subscribers of my newsletter. Use the search feature on the left side of the web page.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Laheij, R.J.F. JAMA, October 27, 2005.