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HEALTH CONCERN? BioHealth Health Concerns

Do You Need Antacids? Will You Get Stomach Cancer?

Contributing Author: Petersen, Vikki D.C.

Vikki PetersenDr. Petersen is the Clinical Director for HealthNOW Medical Center located in Sunnyvale, CA. The medical center offers family medical care, chiropractic with physical therapy and clinical nutrition. Dr. Petersen has been in private practice for over two decades. Dr. Petersen received her Doctorate from Northwestern College of Chiropractic in 1983. She is also a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and holds a Diploma from the American Chiropractic Board of Nutrition. Dr. Petersen has lectured throughout the United States and appears regularly as a speaker for various companies. She is an international radio personality, speaking on topics such as Women's Health, Stress, Anti-Aging, Fibromyalgia, Weight Loss, etc.

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The title of this article may seem like an odd pairing of concepts, but it is unfortunately quite true. If you take antacids, whether over the counter or prescribed by a doctor, you are in very good company. Antacids are the number one category of drugs taken in this country. Like many medications taken, antacids are wonderful in relieving the bothersome symptom, yet do very little to address the underlying cause of the problem.

What if the antacid that you or a friend take is masking evil bacteria that could not only destroy your stomach but perhaps lead to cancer? You'd want to know, wouldn't you? Well, read on!

First, let's discuss the symptoms you may be experiencing. They vary, but can include the following:

  • Heartburn
  • Pain or discomfort (usually in the upper abdomen)
  • Bloating
  • An early sense of fullness with eating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Reflux
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • No symptoms; a vast number fall into this category.

(As some of the above symptoms may be related to other disease processes, you always want to be checked by your doctor to rule out other possible causes.)

It seems fitting that one of the most common symptoms, heartburn, should be caused, potentially, by one of the most common chronic bacteria in humans.

The name of this bacterium is Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori for short. Conservative estimates indicate that the bacterium is present in the stomach of approximately half the world's population. Surprisingly, the importance of H. pylori was not appreciated until 1982. H. pylori is now recognized as the most common cause of gastric (stomach) and duodenal (upper small intestine) ulcers.

H. pylori causes a number of changes to the normal environment of the stomach and upper small intestine. It disrupts the mucous layer and causes the release of certain enzymes and toxins that may directly or indirectly injure the cells of the stomach and upper small intestine.

H. pylori is not only capable of causing a number of gastrointestinal disorders, including ulcers, but can also cause stomach cancer. The chronic inflammation of the cells in the stomach (chronic gastritis) is thought to progress to abnormal cellular changes that can lead to certain forms of cancer. This form of cancer is not terribly common.

H. pylori is most likely spread from person to person through oral–oral or fecal–oral exposure since H. pylori may be carried in saliva and feces (stool).

The most important thing is to find out whether you have a H. pylori infection. Blood tests are available but they are not equal in their ability to detect the problem. There is the risk of a false negative in the most common blood test used. A false negative is where the test comes back negative, but you do have the infection. COREONE Diagnostics offers accurate stool antigen testing for detection of H. pylori so work with a provider to get this ordered.

If you have any of the above symptoms, determining whether you have this bacterium may be critical to your health. Left untreated, it can do permanent damage to your stomach and small intestine. Once discovered, it can be treated rather easily with specific antibiotics. The treatment protocol is very specific.