Proton Pump Inhibitor Use and Obesity-Associated Cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative

Tarah J. Ballinger, Zora Djuric, Sagar Sardesai, Kathleen M. Hovey, Chris A. Andrews, Theodore M. Brasky, Jian Ting Zhang, Thomas E. Rohan, Nazmus Saquib, Aladdin H. Shadyab, Michael Simon, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Robert Wallace, Ikuko Kato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have off-target activity on fatty acid synthase (FASN), a critical enzyme in energy balance and cancer growth. We evaluated risk of common obesity-related cancers: breast, colorectal (CRC), and endometrial, with use of PPI and histamine-2 receptor antagonists (H2RA) in 124,931 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative. Incident cancer cases were physician-adjudicated. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate multivariable hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for cancer incidence after year 3. There were 7956 PPI ever users and 9398 H2RA only users. Ever use of either PPI or H2RA was not associated with risk of breast cancer (n = 9186) nor risk of endometrial cancer (n = 1231). The risk of CRC (n = 2280) was significantly lower in PPI users (HR = 0.75, 95% CI = 0.61–0.92), but not in H2RA users (HR = 1.13, 95% CI = 0.97–1.31). The association of PPI use with CRC was apparent regardless of BMI or NSAID use, and was stronger with longer PPI duration (p = 0.006) and potency (p = 0.005). The findings that PPI use, but not H2RA use, demonstrate an inverse dose-response relationship with risk of CRC is consistent with preclinical data showing FASN inhibition prevents colon cancer progression and supports a role of PPI in CRC prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-275
Number of pages11
JournalNutrition and cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Oncology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cancer Research


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