Are Ulcers, Heart Attacks And Strokes Really Due To Infections?

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Are Ulcers, Heart Attacks And Strokes Really Due To Infections?

Five years ago, the medical community was jolted when it was shown that peptic ulcers were not due to dietary indiscretion or stress, but rather a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. The initial suggestion of this, several years previously, was greeted with skepticism if not incredulity for several reasons. The role of stress in peptic ulcer disease had been well established. Most ulcer patients could readily identify foods that would trigger symptoms, and increased secretion of gastric acid and pepsin was the obvious mechanism of action. Aspirin, cortisone, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs caused ulcers because they lowered normal local tissue defenses against the digestive action of these chemicals, and the notion that ulcers were an infectious disease you could "catch" was counterintuitive.

It had been assumed that microorganisms were simply responsible for specific infections, in accordance with Koch's postulates. The tubercle bacillus caused tuberculosis, and the same was true for the pneumococcus and pneumonia, HIV virus for AIDS, monilia for thrush, Endamoeba histolytica for amebic dysentery, Plasmodium malariae for malaria, etc., etc.

It was known that some microorganisms, such as the spirochete that caused syphilis, could eventually produce dermatologic, cardiovascular and neurological pathology, but these were almost always the sequela of a clinically evident infection; even though this might have occurred many months or years previously. There was also some suggestion that local candida infections could produce a systemic illness. However, there was absolutely no evidence of signs and symptoms to indicate an infectious process with respect to helicobacter and peptic ulcer. Yet, the proof seemed incontrovertible. The organism was invariably cultured from ulcer lesions; ulcers could be caused by ingesting the bug, which did result in a few days of malaise and elevated temperature. The proof of the pudding was that a course of appropriate antibiotics eradicated the disease more effectively and permanently than conventional treatment with diet, antacids, and acid inhibitor medications.

The American Institute of Stress.

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