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New Developments in Ulcer Therapy

What once was believed to be caused by stress, has now been linked to a different culprit. For years a tension-filled life has been blamed for causing ulcers. In the 1980s, the work of an Australian physician led the medical community to associate ulcers with the bacteria, H. Pylori.

Although one-half of the people in the world have the bacteria in their body, only 10 to 20 percent of them become afflicted with ulcers. The discovery of the relationship between the bacteria and ulcers led to the current treatment that cures 90 percent of the ulcers caused by the bacteria. A combination of drugs - clarithromycin, an antibiotic, and the antacid, omeprazole, are taken together to cure the ulcer.

Another breakthrough for ulcer sufferers is the development of a simple breath test to detect the bacteria. The test involves patients drinking a liquid or swallowing a capsule that contains a small amount of a protein. Then, the patient blows through a straw into a balloon. Laboratory technicians can check the air captured in the ballon to see if any H. Pylori is present. It is expected that the breath test will reduce the need for endoscopy, a procedure where a physician pushes a tube down the throat of a patient into the stomach. In recent hospital trials, two versions of the breath test had a 95 percent accuracy rate. The Food and Drug Administration has approved one of the tests, and the other is waiting for approval.

Shrimp is OK!

Another reason to eat shrimp has been found. Shrimp is low in fat and rich in the fish oils that have been found to be good for the heart, but high in cholesterol. However, a recent study reports that blood cholesterol levels generally do not worsen when eating shrimp. Scientists had 18 adults try three different diets each for three weeks - low fat diet and then the same diet with either two eggs or ten ounces of steamed shrimp a day. The low-fat diet with shrimp lowered blood levels of triglycerides (which are bad for heart disease) - an effect the low fat diet alone did not have. The shrimp diet did increase LDL or "bad" cholesterol, but offset that effect by increasing HDL or "good" cholesterol. Eating shrimp prepared in a healthful manner - not fried or butter soaked - is fine, even for those with high cholesterol.


This page was last updated on: Saturday, March 1, 1997
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copyright 1997 by HealthCare Equity, Inc.