More virtue now in moderate alcohol consumption. It does facilitate elimination of H. pylori, German researchers confirm.
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 ulcers-although 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.
In their findings published in the Annals of Epidemiology, Lei Gao and his colleagues with the Division of Clinical Epidemiology and Aging Research in the German Cancer Research Center, sought to check out whether the antibacterial effect of alcohol could indeed lead to the elimination of Helicobacter pylori
They aimed to assess the associations of current and lifetime alcohol consumption as well as serum gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), an established biomarker of alcohol consumption, with H. pylori
infection in a large population-based study. Nearly 10,000 persons in the age group of 50-74 years were covered by their study.
"A significant inverse association, in dose-response manner, was observed between both current and lifetime alcohol consumption and H. pylori
seropositivity. The estimates based on lifetime consumption were more pronounced than the results for current consumption, and such inverse associations were found both for men and women. Stronger relations were observed for those who only drank wine or mixed drinkers compare with those who only drank beer. Furthermore, there was a significant inverse dose-response relationship between serum GGT levels and H. pylori
seropositivity, which was selectively observed among alcohol drinkers," the researchers said.
Previously too UK scientists had come to a similar conclusion.
Dr. Liam J. Murray of The Queen's University of Belfast and colleagues 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. pylori infection.
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, it was found.
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 wine-approximately one drink per day per week-protects 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 said in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, back in 2002.
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.