February 3, 2012

Helicobactor bug may increase the risk of diabetes

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Helicobacter pylori shows that people who have been infected with the bug are more than twice as likely to develop diabetes. The study examined the association between chronic infections and diabetes in the elderly Latino population.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a strain of bacteria that causes chronic inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach. Most people with H. pylori infection will never have any signs or symptoms. It isn’t until a person presents with symptoms leading to the diagnosis of stomach cancer, inflammation of the stomach, or ulcers that H. pylori is found in the body.

Researchers followed almost 800 individuals, 60 years or older, for over a decade. None of the participants had diabetes at the start of the study and they all were tested for H. pylori. But over time, 144 people developed the disease, and 97% of those had tested positive for H. pylori at the start of the study. The participants who tested positive for H. pylori at the beginning of the study were 2.7 times more likely at any given time to develop diabetes.

The study demonstrated for the first time that H. pylori infection leads to an increased rate of diabetes. Although the results show the bug as a strong indicator of predicting diabetes – it does not prove that H. pylori causes diabetes.

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