Friday, July 18, 2008

Not all bad

It turns out that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori which is present in the human stomach and gut (and can cause ulcers) might have some positive effects and not be all bad. A study has shown that there is an inverse relationship between the disappearance of H. pylori in children in the U.S. and the increase in childhood asthma, GERD (gastric reflux), hay fever, and allergies. OK, so this is correlation and not necessarily causation, but it opens up possible avenues for further research.

It also shows that the complexity of the interactions between our bodies and the host of bacteria we carry around with us. Colonization of our bodies begins immediately at birth, and an estimated ninety percent of the cells in an average person’s body are bacteria (an estimated 90-100 trillion cells, and perhaps two to nine pounds of body weight). These bacteria have positive as well as negative effects - positive effects include the synthesis of vitamins, stimulation of the production of natural antibodies, and by their presence protection from other pathogens, while negative effects include disease, etc. The interactions are complex and not that well understood. Amazing stuff!

Ulcer bacteria may protect from asthma
Stomach Bug May Ward Off Asthma
Of microbes and men
Helicobacter Pylori - Wikipedia

Your Body Is a Planet
The Bacterial Flora of Humans
Bacteria and Human Body Weight

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