By Alyson Rich
No. Even though that grouchy neighbor of yours believes that the stress of shooing you off his lawn will give him an ulcer, rest assured that stress does not cause the formation of an open sore. Ingesting spicy food and coffee will not cause ulcers, either. Ulcers are most commonly found in the stomach or duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine), and are known as peptic ulcers. Although approximately one out of every ten Americans will suffer from a peptic ulcer at some point in their lives, most people remain unaware of what really causes them (1).
Since the 1980s, studies have consistently shown that there are two main causes of peptic ulcers: bacterial infection and overuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (2). NSAIDs such as asprin or ibuprofen only cause approximately 20% of peptic ulcers and really only become a problem when not taken as directed. This is why the warning sections on NSAID labels always have a special note about stomach bleeding. The majority of peptic ulcers form as a result of bacterial infection.
This bacterium culprit is Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), which burrows under the mucus coating protecting the digestive tract from stomach acid. Without this protective layer, the stomach acid burns through the small intestine or stomach and creates an open sore (ulcer) that may bleed (3). Although many people have a H. pylori infection and never develop an ulcer, 90% of all people with ulcers are infected with the bacterium (4).
Even though stress can certainly make matters worse it will not cause ulcers to form, so try to be kind to that annoying neighbor while politely informing him about the real cause of ulcers.
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