Ulcer bacteria Helicobacter pylori may protect against diarrhea


Helicobacter pylori is found beneficial against diarrhea.

PEOPLE who harbor ulcer-causing bacteria in their stomachs may be protected against some diarrheal diseases, an Israeli study shows.

Some previous studies had suggested that being infected with the bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, increases the risk of diarrhea, while others have reported finding the opposite, said researchers from Tel Aviv University.

The Helicobacter pylori

“Our findings suggest an active role of Helicobacter pylori in the protection against diarrheal diseases,” wrote lead author Dani Cohen in the journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The bacterium is especially common throughout the developing world, but only causes symptoms in a minority of those it infects.

People with chronic Helicobacter pylori infections are known to have an increased risk of stomach cancer and related diseases.

Mr. Cohen’s team studied 595 male Israeli soldiers, close to one-third of whom visited a base clinic for diarrhea during their field training. All of the soldiers had their blood taken before the start of training, which researchers used to determine which men were chronically infected with Helicobacter pylori.

It turned out that between 32 and 36% of soldiers who had diarrhea due to different types of bacteria than Helicobacter pylori, or from unknown causes, had been infected with Helicobacter pylori before training. In contrast, up to 56% of soldiers infected with Helicobacter pylori before training reported no diarrhea.

Researchers calculated that being infected with Helicobacter pylori meant solders were 60% less likely to get diarrhea from Shigella bacteria. They also had less chance of having diarrhea caused by Escherichia coli bacteria. (Business World)