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Vitamin C may be key to preventing stomach ulcers

August 18, 2003|Dianne Partie Lange

Increasing your consumption of vitamin-C rich fruits and vegetables may protect you against ulcers and stomach cancer.

In a random sample of 7,000 Americans, ages 20 to 90, researchers found that the prevalence of infection with Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium associated with ulcers, was 25% lower in those who had high levels of vitamin C in the blood than in those who had less than normal levels of the nutrient.

One-third of the participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey had antibodies to H. pylori, which indicates that they had been infected at one time. Whether H. pylori somehow lowers the level of vitamin C or a low level of C allows the bacteria to thrive is an unanswered question.

"Americans should be eating five or more fruits and vegetables a day to [get] adequate amounts of vitamin C," says lead researcher Dr. Joel A. Simon, an associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and biostatistics at UC San Francisco. The study was published in the August issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

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-- Dianne Partie Lange

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