Beijing - Researchers have found that regular use of acid reflux drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), is linked to a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
And the longer these drugs are taken, the greater the risk seems to be, the findings, published in the journal Gut show, prompting the researchers to advise that people taking these drugs for two or more years should have regular blood glucose check-ups to screen for diabetes.
PPIs are used to treat acid reflux, peptic ulcers, and indigestion.
They are among the top 10 most commonly used drugs worldwide.
"Long-term use has been linked to an increased risk of bone fractures, chronic kidney disease, gut infections and stomach cancer," said study authors from the Seventh Affiliated Hospital in China.
In 2014, the global prevalence of type 2 diabetes was 8.5 per cent, and the researchers wanted to find out if the widespread use of PPIs and the high prevalence of diabetes might be linked.
They drew on information supplied by 204, 689 participants (176,050 women and 28,639 men) aged 25 to 75.
According to the researchers, participants were also asked whether they had used PPIs regularly in the preceding 2 years: regular use was defined as 2 or more times a week.
During the average tracking period of around 9 to 12 years across all three groups, 10,105 participants were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
After taking account of potentially influential factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical inactivity and use of other medication, those who regularly used PPIs were 24 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who didn't.
And the longer these drugs were taken, the greater was the risk of developing diabetes: use for up to 2 years was associated with a five per cent increased risk; use for more than 2 years was associated with a 26 per cent increased risk.
Further analysis showed that diabetes risk among PPI users wasn't affected by sex, age, family history of diabetes, smoking, alcohol intake, diet, physical activity, high cholesterol or regular use of anti-inflammatory drugs.
But it was higher among participants who weren't overweight or who had normal blood pressure.
For comparison, the researchers also looked at the potential impact of H2 blockers, another type of drug used to curb excess stomach acid production.
Regular use of these drugs was associated with a 14 per cent increased risk. Similarly, longer-term use was associated with a higher risk while longer time since stopping was associated with a lower risk, the study noted.