Web Zap*Germs Archive

July 26, 2005

Ulcer-causing H. pylori Bacteria: Not All Bad?

The recent discovery that Helicobacter pylori causes stomach ulcers helped open doctors' eyes to the possible role of other bacteria or viruses in a variety of human diseases. since the 1980s, antibiotic treatment for gastric and duodenal ulcers has replaced antacids and mild diets, leading to a much lower rate of human infection by H. pylori.

Maybe too low, say some researchers in a fascinating Boston Globe story. It seems that H. pylori produces enzymes that reduce the stomach's acid production, as well as decreases production of a hormone that makes people feel hungry. In so doing, the bacteria may protect against a cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma, as well as protecting against obesity. Statistics appear to support the idea that H. pylori's residence in the human stomach may have some positive aspects.

As a former ulcer sufferer, however, I'm happy to have the little buggers gone.


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