Omeprazole (brand name Prilosec) is a medication approved for treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is the most commonly used drug to reduce stomach acid. In addition, it has been shown to have an anti-cancer effect.

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    Omeprazole and Cancer

    When it comes to cancer treatment, omeprazole has a potentially significant role to play. It blocks one of the acid pumps on cancer cells, known as vacuolar-type hydrogen ATPase. Cancer cells use this pump, as well as others, to move acid from inside the cell to the area outside the cell. Contrary to popular belief and internet lore, cancer does not want to have an acidic environment inside the cell. Rather, it must release this acid in order to create a more alkaline intracellular environment. However, the acid which accumulates in the extracellular space contributes to cancer’s aggressiveness and spread.

    In addition to its acid-blocking properties, omeprazole has also been shown in lab studies to have an anti-proliferative effect, thereby reducing the ability of cancer to spread. Also, research has shown that omeprazole blocks a key protein which allows cancer to avoid programmed cell death. By blocking this protein, cancer’s immortality signal is turned off. This could have potentially significant effects, and should be studied further.

    Omeprazole in Use

    We have used omeprazole as part of a protocol of off-label medications to block the aforementioned acid pumps on cancer cells. Omeprazole is generally a very safe and well-tolerated drug. However, long-term use of proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole can decrease magnesium levels in the body, a condition known as hypomagnesemia. Thus, supplementation with a high quality, well-absorbed magnesium is essential in these situations.