Recent Reads

H. Pylori – Friend Or Foe?

To follow up on my previous post, I’m still alive, and doing quite well in fact. None of the grave diseases that I feared so much have manifested themselves. Instead, I have been diagnosed with a bacterial infection, evidently the most common infection in the world (H. Pylori). Which makes me wonder, if it is so common that 50% of the world’s population is ‘infected’, does it actually count as an infection at all? After digging around a bit, I found an interesting (although technically wordy) article by Martin J. Blaser, an internal medicine professor at NYU, regarding bacteria, humans, and the long-lasting, sometimes symbiotic, sometimes antibiotic relationship between the two. I will summarize some key points here:

1) Based on cell count, there are ten times more bacterial cells than ‘human’ cells inside a person.
2) Overall, it is better (in terms of survival) for bacteria NOT to kill or severely damage their host (which explains why we are all still alive given point 1).
3) Since the invention of antibiotics, H. Pylori has gone from living inside almost every adult human to a presence of less than 10% in children today.
4) Oddly, while H. Pylori helps create ulcers and other more serious stomach diseases, it also simultaneously helps prevent and protect against GERD (acid reflux disease).
5) Some research has suggested (although not conclusively) that the astronomic rise in cases of asthma, obesity, and even Type II diabetes could be in direct correlation with the near-elimination of H. Pylori from the human population over the last six or seven decades.

So I guess when it comes to H. Pylori, it’s a matter of pick your poison. Either live with it and its consequences, or (attempt to) eliminate it and live with those consequences. For me, I’m following my doctor’s orders and massacring as many of my resident bacteria as I can for the next 7 days. I suppose, if the treatment is completely successful, that by end of the 7 days I will be a miniature of myself at 1:10 scale.

Or, more likely, a few hardy H. Pylorians will survive the extermination, and recolonize me as a fitter, stronger friend/foe. And maybe next time the symptoms flare up research will have discovered some actions we humans can take to keep all of our resident bacteria in happy equilibrium, without resorting to violence.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>