– The Viscous Cycle
Two recent studies suggested there is a link
to the use of prescription antacids such as Prilosex and Prevacid
to ulcers and stomach cancer. For some of us, this isn’t
The studies built on the foundation that the
bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is responsible for most
cases of stomach cancer. The studies discovered that the use of
antacids may actually promote the growth of this and other bacteria.
Antacids are commonly prescribed and used
to increase stomach pH (lower acidity) to fight ulceration of
the stomach lining. It was once thought that this was the only
cause of stomach ulcers. We now know that this isn’t true
but medical doctors are a little slower to come around to this
Let’s take a look at how this works.
John decides to go to the doctor because he is having stomach
pains and acid reflux. His doctor, like the many millions of doctors
out there, simply gives him a prescription for one of the popular
drugs at the time and sends him on his way. John goes home, happy
to be done with the symptoms. Everything seems to be going fine,
though John has noticed a few side effects from the drug. Then,
a few months or years later, John ends up in the emergency room
with severe stomach pains. John has a severe bleeding ulcer and
“But I have taken my prescription religiously!”
What John, and probably his doctor, didn’t
consider is that the stomach produces acid to fight foreign invaders
such as bacteria. When antacids are used to suppress the stomach
acid, the bacteria are allowed to thrive. Our best efforts have
done little more than offer the bacteria an environment to do
more damage. Studies are now showing that this was the same bacteria
that caused the problem in the first place.
It’s a viscous cycle.
What can be done?
1. Stop taking antacids. Consider that your
symptoms are an indication that something is wrong and needs to
be addressed. Acid production is a necessary and normal occurrence.
2. Consider herbal alternatives to both kill the bacteria and
control the symptoms.
3. As a last resort, talk to your doctor about prescription antibiotics
to treat resilient strains of bacteria. Prescription antibiotics
carry a whole other slate of problems and should only be considered
when other paths have been exhausted.
You can stop contributing to the problem.
You can see results you can live with.
About the Author:
Nicole Bandes is a trained Herb Specialist, Star manager with
Nature's Sunshine Products and, most importantly, a Mom. She practices
what she preaches and is a walking testimony to the benefits of
living a healthy lifestyle. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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Resistant-bacteria reports cause alarm
Five cases are seen in Boston patients
By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff, 3/2/2003
Five men in Boston have been infected with
a powerful, drug-resistant bacteria, strikingly similar to larger
outbreaks in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Beginning last fall, doctors at the Fenway
Community Health Center started seeing patients with pneumonia,
sinus infections, and skin conditions caused by methicillin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus -- a germ normally caught only in hospitals
by patients already seriously ill from other diseases.
The germ, known as MRSA, can elude a whole
class of antibiotics, making the illness significantly more difficult
Its appearance in the general community has
alarmed health authorities. All five of the men have been treated
and recovered without lasting complications, but doctors are worried
about the broader emergence of bacteria so wily that they can
outrun the best drugs that medicine can produce.
''It's of great concern,'' said Dr. Scott
Fridkin, a medical epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. ''The reports are becoming more frequent,
and it appears to be a growing problem.''
Fenway physicians alerted the CDC about the
cluster of cases, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
has begun an investigation, hoping to establish whether the cases
are linked and, if so, to identify a common source of infection.
The men are all HIV-positive, but neither physicians providing
treatment nor disease investigators can say with certainty that
the patients' HIV status had anything to do with the bacterial
''There's no clear, obvious link that we can
pick up with this,'' said Dr. Stephen L. Boswell, executive director
of the Fenway center. ''It could take months before we know what's
going on here.''
Drug-resistant bacteria are especially perilous
because people infected with them typically don't know -- and
neither do their doctors. That means they're often started on
main-line antibiotics, which do not work because the bacteria
has found a way to get around that drug. In the meantime, the
patients get sicker as the bacteria advances, until doctors find
an antibiotic that will work.
And the threat is not limited to the patient
with the original infection. That resistant bug can spread to
other people, which can ignite a cascade of illness only treatable
by more powerful pills or even antibiotics given intravenously.
Drug-resistant bacteria arrived in Boston
in the late 1960s and early 1970s in hospital wards, said Dr.
Alfred DeMaria, state director of communicable disease control,
and they have remained chiefly a problem in hospitals. That's
because patients are already sick, and many have undergone surgery,
leaving them with incisions vulnerable to infection. ''What's
really new is the degree to which they are turning up in community-acquired
settings,'' DeMaria said. ''But I suppose it was sort of inevitable.''
On the West Coast, outbreaks of similar staph
infections have stricken hundreds of patients, with 928 reported
in Los Angeles County jails during 2002. And earlier this year,
public health agencies in LA and San Francisco both reported clusters
of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in those cities'
Staph bacteria are pervasive, typically causing
few problems. But if they invade a cut or other opening in the
skin, they can cause painful skin infections, bone infections,
pneumonia, and life-threatening blood conditions.
In the past, staph cases in the community
have been treated with first-line antibiotics, such as Keflex.
But it is exactly those sorts of drugs that some strains of the
bacteria are outwitting.
''It's something we need to be on the outlook
for and get better data on,'' said Dr. Anita Barry, director of
communicable disease control at the Boston Public Health Commission.
To prevent further spread of antibiotic-resistant
staph, specialists recommend many of the same measures used to
stop other infections, including rigorous hand-washing. Patients
with persistent skin infections are encouraged to contact their
doctors, and they are urged to make sure that any sores are properly
''The whole issue of antibiotic resistance
is a huge problem for all of us,'' Fenway's Boswell said. ''And
it's a problem that really needs to be addressed because it has
huge public health implications.''
Stephen Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.