Types of Stomach cancer linked to Proton Pump Inhibitors

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A recent study conducted by the University of Hong Kong and University College of London found that Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) increases the likelihood of gastric cancer.  This study was also published by Harvard Medical School and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) which is a part of the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

These PPIs include heartburn medication such as:

  • Prilosec
  • Prilosec OTC
  • Nexium
  • Nexium IV
  • Nexium 24HR
  • Prevacid
  • Prevacid IV
  • Prevacid 24HR
  • AcipHex
  • AcipHex Sprinkle
  • Dexilant (formerly Kapidex)
  • Dexilant Solutab
  • Zegerid
  • Zegerid OTC

This is important since an estimated 15 million Americans use PPIs, which are sold by prescription and over the counter. PPI is used to treat H. pylori, a bacterial infection that causes reflux-like symptoms.

Researchers from Hong Kong studied 63,397 people who had been treated for stomach infection with H. pylori bacteria and even after the bacteria had been killed, those who took PPIs on a long-term basis were more likely to be diagnosed with different types of stomach cancer in the following 7 to 8 years of follow-up.

These different types of stomach cancer include:


Most stomach cancers are classified as adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinomas develop within the cells of the innermost lining of the stomach.


A cancer of the immune system tissue that may start anywhere there are lymph tissues, including the stomach. Lymphomas in the stomach are rather rare and only account for about 4 percent of all stomach cancers.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs)

A rare type of stomach cancer that starts in a special cell found in the lining of the stomach called interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC). Under a microscope, GIST cells look similar to muscle or nerve cells. These tumors may develop throughout the digestive tract, but about 60 to 70 percent occur in the stomach.

Carcinoid tumors

They typically start in the hormone-producing cells of the stomach. These tumors usually do not spread to different organs and account for only about 3 percent of stomach cancer incidence.

Possible Symptoms

  • Unexplained weight loss: Lack of appetite or unexplained weight loss is a common sign of cancer.
  • Stomach pain: Abdominal discomfort or pain in the abdomen above the navel could be a symptom of stomach cancer. Also, swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen may also be caused by stomach cancer.
  • Feeling full: Many stomach cancer patients experience a sense of “fullness” in the upper abdomen after eating small meals.
  • Heartburn: Indigestion, heartburn or symptoms similar to an ulcer may be signs of stomach cancer.
  • Nausea & vomiting: Some stomach cancer patients have symptoms that include nausea and throwing up. Sometimes the vomit may have blood in it.

Why Others Are Filing Lawsuits

The lawsuits allege that the companies behind these medications should have warned consumers and doctors about the risk of stomach cancer. It appears that the drug makers knew or should have known about the potential stomach cancer side effects, yet continued to market the drugs without adequate warnings, encouraging consumers to continue using the medications for long periods of time.

Due to the failure to warn about the potential risks, many individuals stayed on PPIs for many years, with little attempt to reduce the need for the medication. As stated above, the longer a person takes PPIs, the greater their risk of having stomach cancer. However, if gastric cancer warnings had been provided, other heartburn treatment options may have been used, or stomach cancer screening may have been recommended.

How We Can Help

For years, Douglas & London have been fighting for those who are victims of negligence and we have recovered over $875 million over that time fighting for our clients.

Douglas & London has a history of representing people who have suffered from cancer.  Firm partner Stephanie O’Connor, who is also working on PPI, served on the trial team for the first and only Actos federal court trial. In that trial, she greatly assisted the efforts in obtaining a $9 billion verdict for the plaintiff, which resulted in a $2.4 billion settlement for all plaintiffs shortly thereafter.  Ms. O’Connor was also part of the Court-appointed Executive Committee and court-appointed Science Chairperson.

Those who have been diagnosed with stomach cancer who used to take PPI may be eligible for compensation. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with stomach cancer as a result of PPI, please feel free to contact 24/7 us for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

Disclaimer: Douglas & London is a law firm. We are not doctors and do not give medical advice.