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Reduce acid, gain pneumonia

Dear Reader,

It's supposed to protect you if the unthinkable happens and you end up needing breathing machine support. But a drug intended to prevent stress ulcers in critically ill patients could be doing far more harm than good.

Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine started taking a closer look at pantoprazole (marketed under the name ProtonixTM) when they started seeing more cases of pneumonia than they'd ever seen before.

They looked at 834 patient charts and found that those patients who'd received pantoprazole were a full three times more likely to contract pneumonia than patients on another acid reducer. Which is the leading cause of infection-related deaths in critically ill patients. People who end up with hospital-acquired pneumonia have a 20-30% chance of dying from the illness.

And even if you're (relatively) lucky and survive the bout of pneumonia, it increases hospital stays by 7-9 days and increases the risk of other complications.

Now, just because this study compared two acid reducing drugs (the second was ranitidine, marketed under the name ZantacTM) doesn't mean ranitidine is any better. Reducing the acid in your stomach just makes it a more welcoming environment for bacteria, meaning the use of either drug could amount to inviting problems.

Researchers concluded that the use of an acid reducer should be stopped as soon as risk of bleeding has passed. They also added that doctors should question whether an acid reducer is really needed at all.

In recent years, the risk of stress ulcer bleeding has gone down because of new practice—patients with breathing tubes are fed earlier, and food in the stomach may help reduce the effects of stomach acid.

Well, would you look at that? Letting one of the body's natural functions work to protect itself—what a novel idea!

Of course, if you ask Dr. Wright, stomach acid shouldn't be reduced at all. Learn why by searching "stomach acid" in our online archive at

Yours in good health,

Christine O'Brien

P.S. Keep reading for Dr. Wright's Alzheimer's attack plan

Launch a three-pronged attack on Alzheimer's

Q: I know you recommend fish oil, natural hormones, and lithium to prevent Alzheimer's disease. What dosing guidelines do you suggest?

Dr. Wright: Whether you're worried about Alzheimer's prevention or not, everyone should be taking at least 1 tablespoon daily of fish oil. Fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory, and protecting your body -- and your brain -- from inflammation will help prevent any number of diseases, from cancer to heart disease to, of course, Alzheimer's. Plus, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help repair brain cell membranes..

The amounts of lithium I recommend for brain anti-aging range from 10 to 20 milligrams (from lithium aspartate or lithium orotate) daily. Many of the studies done on lithium and cognitive function used higher doses, but I'm certainly not using those amounts myself, nor do I recommend it for others. Prescription quantities of lithium just aren't necessary for "everyday" brain cell protection and re-growth. Studies done years ago have shown that very low amounts of lithium can also measurably influence brain function for the better.

As far as bio-idential hormones are concerned, however, dosages are much more individualized. I suggest you work with a physician knowledgeable about nutritional medicine who can help you determine what amounts might be best for you. To locate such a physician in your area, contact the American College for Advancement in Medicine at (800)532- 3688 or

Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone's personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.