Peptic ulcers caused by helicobater pylori

Gut Check

If you sometimes feel like the stress of the holiday season is
getting the better of you, here’s one thing you don’t have to
worry about: a stress-related stomach ulcer.

There’s a popular misconception that stress can cause peptic
ulcers. And while it’s true that excessive stress can
complicate an already existing ulcer, almost all peptic ulcers
are caused by helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a parasitic
bacteria that weakens the protective coating of the stomach,
allowing acid to irritate the sensitive stomach lining.

Hopefully you’ll never need to worry about H. pylori, which
affects about one in ten people. But to be on the safe side,
research shows that boosting your intake of a vitamin you’re
probably already taking may prevent H. pylori infection.

Connecting C to H

H. pylori bacterium was first identified in 1982. Since then,
scientists have discovered that infection by this spiral-shaped
bacterium may also play a role in the development of heart
disease, autoimmune diseases, and skin diseases. The most
recent research even suggests a link between H. pylori and
several different cancers, including those of the stomach,
pancreas, and the larynx.

In 2003, a team of researchers from the San Francisco VA
Medical Center designed a study to determine the
relationship between blood serum levels of vitamin C and H.
pylori infection.

The VA team examined blood samples and accompanying
data collected from more than 6,700 adult subjects as part of
the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
conducted in the late 80s and early 90s. About one-third of
the blood samples revealed the presence of H. pylori
bacterium. The samples were also tested to measure levels of
ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

After accounting for variable factors that included ethnicity,
researchers found that among white subjects who showed the
highest levels of vitamin C, H. pylori infection was reduced
by 25 percent. However, non-white subjects with high
vitamin C levels didn’t receive the same benefit; only a very
modest correlation to reduced infection.

Those are the correlations the researchers are certain of.
Questions about cause and effect, however, produce less
certain answers. For instance: Does vitamin C reduce the
chance of H. pylori infection, or does H. pylori cause vitamin
C levels to be diminished? Also, H. pylori infection often
occurs when patients are very young, leading to ulcers later
in life. Whether vitamin C could prevent this early infection
is not known. Some animal studies, however, have indicated
that H. pylori infection may be reduced with high levels of
vitamin C intake.

Obviously, more research is called for. But in spite of the
unknown factors, the lead researcher, Joel A. Simon, M.D.,
told Science Daily that he would encourage everyone –
especially those who test positive for H. pylori – to increase
consumption of vitamin C-rich foods.

Alternatives to antibiotics

For many years the mainstream dismissed the idea that
bacteria caused ulcers. In the past two decades all that has
changed, and yet many doctors still don’t test for H. pylori.
And when a patient does test positive for the bacterium,
many doctors simply reach for a prescription antibiotic – a
practice that has led to new drug-resistant strains of H. pylori.
Even worse, antibiotics can upset the delicate balance of
helpful bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract, paving the way
for more problems.

At HSI, we’ve written about several natural therapies that can
rid your body of H. pylori without the unwanted side effects
of antibiotics. In the August 2001 issue of the Members
Alert newsletter, we told you about a formula called
Probiotics 12 Plus that contains a beneficial bacterial strain
proven to destroy resistant pathogens. Laboratory testing has
shown that this formula’s helpful bacterium, called TH
10, inhibits all strains of H. pylori – even those that have
become resistant to antibiotics. Probiotics 12 Plus is available
from Uni Key Health Systems. For more information, you
can visit the web site, at

In the November 1999 HSI Members Alert, we told you how
lactoferrin, a protein found in bovine colostrum, can kill H.
pylori bacterium. Studies show that lactoferrin binds iron in
your blood, keeping it away from cancerous cells, bacteria,
viruses and other pathogens that require iron to grow.
Research also suggests that the lactoferrin protein activates
specific strands of DNA that turn on the genes that launch
your immune response. Lactoferrin is available through many
sources online and in most health food stores.


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and another thing
If you’ve resolved to get more exercise in 2005, here are two
points that might help you keep on track.

Point One:
A study from Northwestern University that followed the
exercise habits of more than 4,400 men and women for up to
15 years found that those who remained fit were far less
likely to develop type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure;
two conditions that often lead to a variety of health problems
and chronic diseases.

The results of this study are not surprising, of course. But I
was impressed by a comment from the lead researcher of the
study, Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, who singled out this
important point for BBC News: “The development of risk
factors for heart disease and stroke isn’t just the natural result
of aging.”

Exactly so. None of the infirmities that so many regard as
“just part of getting older” should be thought of as inevitable.
With balanced nutrition and regular exercise, poor health is
not an inevitable part of aging.

Point Two:
In an American Heart Association (AHA) review of more
than 40 studies on the effects of exercise on heart health,
researchers concluded that heart disease can be prevented and
blood pressure can be lowered with regular exercise.

Again, this is no surprise. But the report on the study offered
an insight into the fact that most doctors are trained to simply
treat heart problems, not prevent them. So their first reaction
will likely be to reach for the prescription pad and to talk to
you about exercise second (if at all).

One of the AHA members who participated in the study slyly
noted that, when talking to physicians, drug sales
representatives don’t talk about exercise instead of drugs,
even though the review shows that exercise often works just
as well as drugs to address heart issues. So it’s up to each of
us to keep in mind how heavily influenced some doctors can
be by information they receive from the big pharmas when
deciding what, if any, treatment to take.

When it comes to exercise, we’re on our own. But I know
from experience that it’s always helpful when you have
motivators that can persuade you to stay the course. And for
me, it’s a great motivation knowing that exercise provides a
way to avoid a visit to the doctor.

To Your Good Health,
Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute


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“Relation of Serum Ascorbic Acid to Helicobacter Pylori
Serology in US Adults: the Third National Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey” Journal of the American
College of Nutrition, Vol. 22, No. 4, 283-289 (2003),
“Vitamin C May Protect Against Ulcer-causing Bacteria,
Study Finds” Science Daily, 8/1/03,
“Vitamin C May Prevent Ulcers and Stomach Cancer” Dr.
Joseph Mercola, 8/20/03,
“Exercise Prescriptions” Family Health Matters, 12/26/03
“Keeping Fit has Long-Term Benefit” BBC News, 12/17/03,