The H. pylori infection is now more commonly found in developing countries or those with poor sanitation, where Salmonella and inflammatory bowel diseases are more common. Most people contract H. pylori in their first seven years of life, most commonly through exposure to feces.
Higgins does not recommend that inflammatory bowel patients should be infected with H. pylori, however. In the U.S., H. pylori infection is treated with antibiotics because it can lead to stomach ulcers or cancer, even though most people don't notice they have it.
"There may be a reason we co-exist with H. pylori. Maybe we should not be so quick to get rid of it in patients who do not have stomach ulcers," Higgins says, adding that this may be especially true in places where Salmonella remains a common threat.
"It would be reasonable for researchers to look at whether H. pylori infection is associated with reduced severity of other gut infections like cholera or Clostridium difficile. Many more studies are needed, however, to see if H. pylori could actually prevent inflammatory bowel disease."
About U-M's Division of Gastroenterology: U-M is one of the largest gastroenterology practices in the country and is a leader in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver. Our 50-plus physicians are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of all diseases of the gastrointestinal system, from simple to complex, including those of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and biliary tract.
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|Contact: Mary F. Masson|
University of Michigan Health System