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Ulcers and Cancer Risk: What You Need to Know
Ulcers are not uncommon, and typically they can be treated with straightforward, accessible methods. However, certain ulcers, caused by a bacteria known as H. pylori come with an increased risk of stomach cancer. Below we explain this bacteria and the ulcers it causes, information about stomach cancer and common treatments, and potential H. pylori natural treatments.
What is H. Pylori?
H.pylori, or Helicobacter pylori, is a type of bacteria. This bacteria enters the body and lives in the digestive tract. Many people have this bacteria without experiencing any symptoms. In others, this bacteria can cause ulcers in the lining of your stomach or small intestine. H. pylori also can lead to infections and stomach cancer. It causes these conditions by eating away your stomach lining, causing acid to get in places that would usually be protected.
Causes of H.Pylori
H.pylori gets into the digestive system through the mouth. A common cause of H. pylori is through bacteria that can be can be found in food, water, or on utensils. The bacteria is very common throughout the world, but less common in the United States. Clean water and sewage systems go a long way in preventing exposure to H. pylori.
As mentioned above, H. pylori cause ulcers by eating through the lining of the stomach. This results in acid splashing through or around the lining, leading to sores, which are known as ulcers. These ulcers, if left unchecked, can bleed into your stomach and intestines, leading to severe health issues.
Diagnosis of H.Pylori
If you have symptoms of an ulcer or have had an ulcer in the past, your doctor should test you for H. pylori to find if you’re at risk for stomach cancer. Ulcer symptoms include bloating, burping, vomiting, and unexplained weight loss. If left unchecked, ulcers can cause bloody stool, breathing difficulties, dizziness, fatigue, and severe stomach pain. These more severe symptoms should be checked out immediately. Early signs of stomach cancer include heartburn, belly pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, and unexplained weight loss.
If you have or have had an ulcer, make sure that that is recorded in your health records. With the implementation of electronic health records, information is more easily kept, but you should still check that your records are accurate and up-to-date.
Conventional H. Pylori Treatments
The first step to dealing with H. pylori infections and the resulting health conditions is to kill the bacteria itself. Conventionally, this includes taking at least two types of antibiotics. Doctors also often recommend drugs that reduce the amount of acid in your stomach, such as Prilosec and medicines that block histamine, like Pepcid. Treatment often takes several weeks and will involve follow-up testing to ensure that the bacteria and infections are gone. Testing includes using radiologic imaging technologies to make sure the cancer is done. You’ll want to research how CT scans and MRIs can affect your body and talk with your doctor about whether these are right for you and how to keep your immune system healthy despite exposure to radiation.
H. Pylori Natural Treatments
It is one of the many bacteria that grows resistant to antibiotics. This has led to treatments becoming longer and needing more repetition before the bacteria die completely.
There are many natural substances that contain antibiotic properties. The lactic acid bacteria in yogurt is known to suppress H. pylori without killing all the good bacteria in your stomach like commercial antibiotics do. Sulforaphane, which occurs naturally in broccoli and cauliflower has also been proposed as a treatment. If you are concerned that conventional treatments aren’t right for you, talk to your doctor about the research into alternative treatments. It’s very possible that diet changes and preventative measures, along with antibiotic and probiotic supplements could be a possible solution.
Have you or a loved one experienced ulcers due to H. pylori? Have you been tested for stomach cancer? Share your experiences in the comments below! But we suggest that you talk about H. pylori treatments with your doctor or health care practitioner.