Bring on the Hate Mail

Today, we again address one of our most divisive topics... the dangers of heartburn drugs.

Every time we talk about heartburn medication, we get a flood of messages from readers.

Some are angry e-mails from folks telling us they need Prilosec to eat all the foods they love... others are from misguided doctors warning us we're scaring folks unnecessarily... while our favorites are from readers who have taken matters into their own hands, offering suggestions for things that helped their heartburn without taking pills.

For example, Susan M. wrote in earlier this year to tell us what happened after she was diagnosed with acid reflux...

Three different doctors tried to give me free samples of pills, without doing any medical tests. It was a knee-jerk diagnosis.

Here's the thing... Only a few people really need the powerful proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs like Prilosec, Prevacid, or Nexium. According to one study in the BMJ, about 60% to 70% of folks taking these pills don't meet the diagnostic criteria.

Many folks are popping these pills ­before trying more appropriate methods for mild to moderate heartburn... like changing eating habits and losing weight. And it's costing them their health – and even their lives.

Research has linked PPIs to everything from heart attack to dementia risk. And a new study out this week demonstrates PPIs also raise the risk of stomach cancer. This is particularly true for long-term use. With PPIs available over the counter, overuse is a major problem.

Make sure you fully understand the risks before taking these drugs. There are some folks who need PPIs for specific stomach issues... Still, they should be a last resort. And be sure to understand all the risks and protect yourself. Probiotics, staying active, and weight-bearing exercise should be part of your regular routine for a healthier life.

We covered PPIs and this new study in our Weekly Update video – click here to watch it now.

Send your comments, criticisms, and suggestions to [email protected].

Q: Thanks for all the terrific work you do and the straight forward information. I have a very good friend who has been told he has Parkinson's. Can you provide some basic facts on this condition, in particular if it is something can be stopped, or arrested? I see lots of information on the internet, but who is telling the truth versus those just hustling you for money? I trust you! – A.B.

A: We've written a little bit about Parkinson's in the past. We've debunked the myth that low-fat dairy raises Parkinson's risk, explained the link between pesticides and Parkinson's, and talked about how music therapy brings relief to patients. (If you'd like us to dedicate an issue to Parkinson's, let us know.)

You can start with the essays we've linked above. But if you're looking for detailed information – from a source that's not trying to hustle you – I recommend visiting these three websites:

  3. The Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins

Q: My question is: How do I use my Roth IRA and Traditional IRA accounts to fund investments without a penalty? I read on line that folks use these funds to finance investment properties and options trading. I'm confused as to how to do this. I also have a TSP through my job. Could I use those funds in the same way? – E.R.

A: Selling options in an individual retirement account (IRA) is a great technique... The extra income and any capital gains stay out of the hands of the taxman and grow even faster because more stays in your hands and compounds upon itself over time.

Tax-free compounding makes a huge difference in your long-term performance. And you don't need to worry about tracking your gains and losses for the IRS. And you don't need to worry about short- and long-term differences in capital gains, either. You can trade options – and buy property – through a self-directed IRA.

If you have a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), your investment choices are more limited. Check with your account provider, or visit to learn about them.

Q: Do Saskatoon berries have similar benefits of blueberries? – M.P.

A: You had my team stumped with this one, so we looked into it. None of them had heard of a Saskatoon berry (here in the U.S., it's more commonly known as a juneberry). For folks who haven't heard of them, Saskatoon berries look and taste a lot like blueberries. But researchers don't know much about their benefits... There aren't any well-sourced human studies on Saskatoon berries.

We do know that Saskatoon berries contain antioxidants and flavonoids like quercetin, a molecule that helps lower blood-sugar levels. We can assume that these berries have at least some benefits... But until there's more research, we'll stick to blueberries.

What We're Reading...

  • Something different: If you needed another reason to avoid black licorice... here it is.

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
November 3, 2017