More than 90% of stomach ulcers are caused by a bacteria called helicobacter. We used to think that you get this germ only by eating polluted food and drinking polluted water, but recent studies show that you can get helicobacter from kissing (7,8).
A study in the most recent issue of the medical journal, Digestive Diseases and Sciences, shows that 84% of people with helicobacter infections in their stomachs have this germ in their saliva, while only 25% of these people have the germ in their stool (1). This confirms other studies (2) shows that kissing a person with ulcers may be more likely to give you stomach ulcers than eating and drinking polluted food and water. Kissing your cat can also give you a stomach ulcer as cats are common sources (3). People in third world countries are even more likely to transmit this germ because helicobacter can be found in their teeth. but not in the teeth of people from countries with rigid health standards (4).
To protect yourself from developing stomach ulcers, check your partner for belching burping, burning in the stomach that gets more severe when the person is hungry and better after eating, a white-coated tongue, a chronic sore throat, and mouth odor. Any person with these symptoms should get a blood test for helicobacter, and if positive, he or she should get an upper GI series X ray to rule out stomach cancer also caused by helicobacter (5,6). The person can be cured by taking three medications for just one week. We can now add helicobacter infections and stomach ulcers to the list of sexually transmitted diseases.
By Gabe Mirkin, M.D., for CBS Radio News
1) CF Li, TZ Ha, DA Ferguson, DS Chi, RG Zhao, NR Patel, G Krishnaswamy, E Thomas. A newly developed PCR assay of H-pylori in gastric biopsy, saliva, and feces: Evidence of high prevalence of H-pylori in saliva supports oral transmission. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 41: 11 (NOV 1996): 2142-2149.
2) K Schutze, E Hentschel, B Dragosics, AM Hirschl. Helicobacter pylori reinfection with identical organisms: Transmission by the patients’ spouses. Gut 36: 6 (JUN 1995): 831-833.
3) Infection and Immunity 1994; 62: 2367-74.
4) K Shankaran, HG Desai. Helicobacter pylori in dental plaque. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 21: 2 (SEP 1995): 82-84.
5) D Boixeda, JP Gisbert, C Arocena, R Canton, IA Baleriola, CM Deargila, AYG Plaza. Prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection in gastric adenocarcinoma and chronic gastritis. Revista Espanola de Enfermedades Digestivas 88: 6 (JUN 1996): 403-408.
6) A Kokkola, J Valle, R Haapiainen, P Sipponen, E Kivilaakso, P Puolakkainen. Helicobacter pylori infection in young patients with gastric carcinoma. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 31: 7 (JUL 1996): 643-647.
7) F Parente, G Maconi, O Sangaletti, M Minguzzi, L Vago, E Rossi, GB Porro. Prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection and related gastroduodenal lesions in spouses of Helicobacter pylori positive patients with duodenal ulcer. Gut 39: 5 (NOV 1996): 629-633.
8) SD Georgopoulos, AF Mentis, CA Spiliadis, LS Tzouvelekis, E Tzelepi, A Moshopoulos, N Skandalis. Helicobacter pylori infection in spouses of patients with duodenal ulcers and comparison of ribosomal RNA gene patterns. Gut 39: 5 (NOV 1996): 634-638.