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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Science News: Ulcer Bacteria Beneficial in Children?

I love science. I love that nowadays we know that ulcers aren't "caused by stress". That always sounded like hogwash to me, because plenty of low stress people had ulcers. Now we know it's largely caused by the H. Pylori bacteria. And after reading this article, it turns out that H. Pylori may offer us some benefits as well. In children, an H. Pylori infection negatively correlates with development of allergies and asthma. How cool is that! The article says,
"In the future, physicians may give children a mix of H. pylori strains to optimize their health early in life, and then use antibiotics to eradicate the organism in a patient's 40s," Blaser says.

This also reinforces my caution surrounding anti-biotics. Yes, they're a wonder drug, but one that is grossly overused, nearly to the point that we may soon lose them. And when you're trying to kill off an acute infection, you're also killing lots of other systemic bacteria that's busy doing good work. Luckily, it turns out our appendix is saving us from our folly a bit, but it can only do so much.

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