|Further evidence has emerged that moderate consumption of alcohol
may lower a persons risk of infection with Helicobacter pylori,
a bacterium associated with stomach ulcers, UK researchers have
However, people already with ulcers are advised to avoid alcohol
as it can aggravate ulcer pain. Alcohol consumption can also,
in some people, boost levels of stomach acid.
H. pylori bacteria are commonly found in the human body and usually
cause no harm. But experts believe that the bug contributes to
a majority of stomach ulcersalthough why this happens in only
some people is unknown. Although the infection is usually acquired
in childhood, little is known about the factors, apart from poor
living conditions during childhood, that affect either acquisition
or elimination of the organism.
Dr. Liam J. Murray of The Queens University of Belfast and colleagues
comment:"Lifestyle factors operating during adulthood such as
smoking and alcohol consumption may influence spontaneous eradication
of the organism".The researchers evaluated the lifestyle habits
including smoking, drinking and coffee consumption among 4,902
adult men and women. Of the group, 1,634 tested positive for H.
People who drank 3 to 6 glasses of wine or 3-6 half pints of beer
per week had an 11% lower risk of H. pylori infection compared
to those who did not drink. Higher wine and beer consumption were
associated with an additional 6% reduction in the risk of infection.
Smoking or coffee drinking were not related to the likelihood
of active H. pylori infection, the report indicates.
The researchers speculate that antibacterial agents in red wine
and beer may keep the infection at bay. "Our data indicate that
modest consumption of beer or wineapproximately one drink per
day per weekprotects against active H. pylori infection, presumably
by facilitating eradication of the organisms. However, the data
do not enable us to comment on the relevance of patterns of wine
and beer consumption," Murray and colleagues conclude.
SOURCE: Murray LJ et al. Inverse relationship between alcohol
consumption and active Helicobacter pylori infection: the Bristol
Helicobacter project. The American Journal of Gastroenterology