H. Pylori (Helicobacter Pylori) is a bacteria that is able to live in the stomach and not be killed by the acid environment. It has been around for a very long time, but in the early 1980’s it became associated with ulcer disease, and was felt to be the cause of ulcers. Although this has been a theory, it has never been proven that H. Pylori causes ulcers. In fact, it is present quite commonly in the stomachs of people in third world countries. Up to 80-90% of people in Africa, South America, China, Japan, and parts of Europe have the bacteria, but most never develop ulcers.
We have conducted studies on the Orlando, Florida population and have found only 20-24% of patients have H. Pylori, and only 30% of those who have ulcers have H. Pylori. The low incidence of H. Pylori in ulcer disease has actually been described in many parts of this country as well as in Europe. We have not found any strong link between H. Pylori and gastric cancer either, as described in other parts of the world. Therefore, we do not advocate testing for H. Pylori, unless an ulcer is present. Treating H. Pylori is an expensive and lengthy regimen that has not proven to relieve symptoms unless an ulcer is present. The most common causes of ulcers today are aspirin/nonsteroidal medicine (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) usage, stress, alcohol excess and occasionally H. Pylori.
We do not recommend treating patients who have elevated antibody titers in their blood, since it doesn’t mean anything other than they have been exposed to this common bacterium.
Although there are still many lay press and medical articles dealing with H. Pylori, the truth remains that there is no repeatable evidence showing H. Pylori causes ulcers or cancer. Therefore, we do not recommend that this be sought out, unless an ulcer is already present.
H. Pylori Article