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Disappearing Bad Bacteria behind Obesity and Diabetes

Update Date: Feb 09, 2013 04:57 PM EST

A bad bacterium that's been known to cause gastritis, ulcers, and gastric cancer may be associated with weight control and promote glucose tolerance, a new study has found. Researchers say that the disappearance of the bacteria explains why obesity and diabetes type-2 rates have escalated in the past few decades.

The bacterium Helicobacter pylori infects about half of the world's population, although many people don't show symptoms of an infections. The bacterium is making the human body its home for about 116,000 years. However, previous research hasn't been able to show why this bacterium is a pathogen in humans.

This isn't the first time that the disappearance of H pylori has been linked to increase in the number of health complications. Earlier this year, a study from NYU School of Medicine had found that a virulent strain of the bacterium may protect against stroke and some cancers.

Researchers from Virginia Bioinformatics Institute of Virginia Tech, who conducted the present study, found that mice models exposed to H pylori had less insulin resistance compared with mice that weren't infected with H pylori.

The study team says that the nature of health outcomes post infection depends on the genetic make-up of the bacterium and the host's immune response.  

"Our new findings suggest that H. pylori may provide important metabolic traits required to ameliorate diabetes that humans have not evolved on their own," said Josep Bassaganya-Riera, from Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens (MIEP) at Virginia Tech in a news release.

The study is published in the journal PLOS One.                                        

"This novel finding underscores the complex relationship between H. pylori and humans, with effects not limited to the stomach, but more broadly affecting systemic inflammation and metabolism," said Martin Blaser, at New York University School of Medicine.

Another study published recently in The ISME Journal had reported that researchers have now identified the gut bacteria that cause a person to put-on weight. 

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