ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Washington University researchers have a warning about the possible dangers of some popular heartburn drugs.

They found that taking proton pump inhibitors for prolonged periods may lead to serious kidney damage without any warning.

CBS News Medical Contributor Dr. David Agus says the drugs are sold under the brand names Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium, among others.

“What the studies showed is that continued use of these drugs, we studied over five years in the veterans administration so a big data study, found that if you took these for long periods of time that the rate of chronic kidney disease went up, and chronic kidney disease is not one that has symptoms or signs until it’s too late, and so obviously very worrisome,” he says.

The best defense, according to Agus, is to try to prevent the problem by avoiding fatty foods, over-eating, alcohol and tobacco.

“7.8 percent of Americans in the last 30 days took this class of drugs, and so we all take it, but what we know is that much of the heartburn is avoidable by following what you eat,” Agus says.

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