OCT 16, 2017 3:04 PM PDT

Can Stress Really Give You an Ulcer?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers, are relatively common, occurring in 10-15 percent of the population. The condition can bring on a burning or "gnawing" sensation in the stomach area, caused by stomach acids and enzymes that erode the lining of the stomach or esophagus.

It was once common belief that stomach ulcers were the result of lifestyle stress, or the consumption of trigger foods, such as coffee and hot peppers. But despite this rampant belief, scientists had a hard time finding evidence to support this link.

For one scientist, stomach cancer was not a result of stress or poor diet; rather, Barry Marshall was convinced that microorganisms were behind the painful ulcers. So adamant of his hypothesis that Marshall experimented on himself, drinking a broth containing the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. In so doing, Marshall provided irrefutable evidence that the bacterium is the cause of ulcers. Now, we attribute the majority of stomach ulcers to the bacteria, and treatment usually involves a strong dose of antibiotics. Watch the video to learn more!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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