[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
In 2005 two scientists won a Nobel Prize for discovering that a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori causes most stomach ulcers. One of them even chugged a glassful of the bugs to prove the point. But before you wash out your mouth with antibiotics, consider this: a new study from New York University suggests that Helicobacter might also protect you—from asthma.
A hundred years ago, nearly everyone was infected with H. pylori. But the use of antibiotics has beaten back the bug. At the same time, asthma has been on the rise. It could be that encountering Helicobacter as a kid teaches the immune system how to react, and not overreact as in asthma to future allergens. Still, you might hold off on ordering that Helicobacter cocktail until more research is done.