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Brittany Garcia Professor Allison Kaufman Psych 105 25 February 2011 Spicy Foods: Painful Pleasure or Health Risk?

There are a number of commonly believed sayings or myths out in the world. They are things that the general public does not questionthey are bystanders merely believing them even if there is a great deal of evidence given that proves it to be false. One such myth that I hope to shed some light on is one that states that spicy foods cause ulcers. An ulcer is a hole in the lining of the stomach which was once believed to have been caused by too much acid in the stomach. Dr. Sachs, a professor of medicine at UCLA, said that We thought this excess acid was caused by any number of things: stress, spicy foods, cigarettes, smoking, alcohol (Marini). However, in 2005, two Australians received the Nobel Prize in medicine for the discovery that ninety percent of ulcers were actually caused by a treatable bacteria called Heliobacterpylori rather than spicy foods or stress (USA Today). Back in the 1980s, Robin Warren and Barry Marshall first noticed this string of bacteria in the biopsies of patients with ulcers and saw that they caused inflammation. Despite their findings, many rejected the idea that it was responsible for the cause of ulcers. However, Marshall fought to be heard so he traveled around the world to inform others about his findings and even went as far as to swallow a Helicobactor culture to prove that it really does cause inflammation; which led people to acknowledge and accept Warren and Marshalls discovery. Along with ulcers, this type of bacteria has also been connected to two forms of stomach cancer. The infection rates are the highest among developing nations although wealthier nations

rates have decreased due to the greater use of antibiotics. The treatment for patients who have ulcers due to H. pylori bacteria is antibiotics. It is also advised that these people who have been diagnosed not drink or smoke since alcohol and smoking can increase the amount of acid in the stomach and, therefore, slow down the healing/recovery rate. However, studies have found that even with the implemented antibiotics, more than 60 percent of those infected have a recurrence approximately a year after treatment (Cedars-Sinai). It has been recorded that the national cost of treatment and recurrence is an estimated amount of $6,000,000,000 a year (USA Today). And although the transmission of H. pylori is still unknown, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that you always wash your hands, drink sanitized water, and eat properly prepared food.

References Enserink, M. (2005). Triumph of the Ulcer-Bug Theory. Science, 310(5745), 34-35. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Spice like us. (1997). Men's Health (10544836), 12(8), 40. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Marini, R. (2003). Stomach ulcers being treated with antibiotics bacterium, more than stress or spicy foods, is getting the blame. San Antonio Express-News, 01.C. Bacterium, not stress, is the villain. (1999). USA Today Magazine, 127(2645), 6-7. Cedar and Sinai. Ulcers. http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Ulcers.aspx MedicineNet. Peptic Ulcer Disease. http://www.medicinenet.com/peptic_ulcer/article.htm