The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 7, 1997 · Page 158
Get access to this page with a Free Trial
Click to view larger version

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 158

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 7, 1997
Page 158
Start Free Trial

Page 158 article text (OCR)

The underlying cause of many ulcers was discovered in the 1980s, but old attitudes and habits have been hard to break. Get Rid Of Ulcers O 1 r1 or vjooul by ,sadore rsenfeld' m A distinguished physician, teacher and best-selling author, PARADE Contributing Editor Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld is known to readers as an astute, no-nonsense commentator on a wide range of health issues. His expertise in mainstream medicine, attention to medical breakthroughs and openness to the uses of alternative forms of medicine qualify him as one of the most authoritative and versatile health writers in America The folbwing article describes a common problem in medical practice and extends a gentle warning to patients and some doctors. The new infection theory by Warren and Marshall was generally greeted with a huge yawn and derision. Doctors believed in the stress-acid-ulcer link, and the pain in ulcer patients' bellies responded well to antacids and acid-blocking drugs. Furthermore, the medical establishment was certain that no bacteria or virus, including H. pylori, could survive in the half-gallon of acid produced every day by a normal stomach. But Barry Marshall was convinced he was right. Frustrated by his inability to persuade his colleagues, he resorted to the ultimate experiment: He prepared Ask Dr. Rosenfeld Do you have questions about health op medicine? Send them to Dr. Rosenfeld, and he will try to answer at least some of them in future articles. Personal replies are not possible. Write to: Ask Dr. Rosenfeld, P.O. Box 5099, New York, N.Y. 10017. it ' ' ,;f ' ) l M W f 1 i 3 i ' '' : tzj tTT Tr ANY OF US 1V1 doctors and patients alike are slow to ac Isadore Rosenfeld, physician, teacher, author and commentator on medical news and trends. Ulcer Myths MYTH: Once you've had an ulcer, it's better never to drink again. FACT: Avoid alcohol when the ulcer is acute. After it has healed, it's okay to drink. MYTH: Excess acid causes ulcers. FACT: Even normal amounts of acid can cause an ulcer if the bacterium H. pylori is present. MYTH: Milk is good for ulcers. FACT: Milk may relieve ulcer pain briefly, but its protein content stimulates acid production. MYTH: If you are ulcer-prone, you must avoid spices and eat a bland diet FACT: Diet has nothing to do with causing ulcers. If you harbor, pylori, a bland diet won't protect you. All you need to avoid and only when the ulcer is "hot" are tobacco, alcohol, caffeine and aspirinlike drugs. MYTH: The new anti-ulcer drugs and antacids cure ulcers. FACT: Conventional therapy heals but doesn't cure an ulcer. It is likely to recur unless H. pylori is eradicated. cept change. We don't always take advantage of new knowledge in medicine as quickly as we should. A case in point is the H. pylori bug and its relation to peptic ulcer disease and stomach cancer. Most peptic ulcers are "holes" in the lining of the stomach or duodenum (the first portion of the small intestine). This disease, which strikes more than one in 10 Americans at some point in life, has traditionally been linked to stress. The conventional treatment: stress reduction (worry and anxiety increase stomach acid production); antacids (to neutralize excess acid); medications such as cimetidine (Tagamet) and ranitidine (Zantac), which reduce the amount of acid made by stomach cells; and a bland diet free of spices, irritants or acid. These measures do heal an active ulcer. But then, weeks or months later, symptoms commonly flare up again. The culprit (again): the acid chewing out the lining of the upper intestinal tract. There is another kind of ulcer that can occur, especially in older people, after prolonged use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin (to prevent heart attacks and strokes) or ibuprofen. These are effective drugs. Don't stop using them, but pay attention if you develop a stomachache or see blood in your stool. For a long time, we were comfortable with our understanding of peptic ulcer disease and satisfied with all the new drugs that controlled its symptoms. Then, in the early 1980s, two Australian doctors, J. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall, noted that samples of stomach fluid from ulcer patients almost always contained a tiny corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Healthy stomach juices did not. Since all of us have lots of stomach acid but most of us don't have ulcers, Warren and Marshall reasoned, this bacterium is what makes the stomach and upper intestinal lining vulnerable to ulceration by normal amounts of acid. H. pylori not acid is the cause of ulcers. Unless you get rid of the bug, they insisted, the ulcer will keep coming back. H. pylori has been around for millions of years, though it was more prevalent when public health standards were lower. It is believed to be transmitted mainly by mouth from tainted food or water, but kissing or other oral contact also can do it PAGE tO DECEMBER 7, 1997 PARADE MAGAZINE

Get full access with a Free Trial

Start Free Trial

What members have found on this page