This develops from prolonged periods of inflammation and irritation and is commonly associated with chronic infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria.
H. pylori is a spiral-shaped bacterium commonly found in the stomach. The bacteria’s shape and the way they move allow them to penetrate the stomach’s protective mucous lining, where they produce substances that weaken the lining and make the stomach more susceptible to damage from gastric acids.
The bacteria can also attach to cells of the stomach, causing stomach inflammation, and can stimulate the production of excess stomach acid. Over time, infection with the bacteria can also increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Although it is not known how H. pylori infection is spread, scientists believe it may be contracted through food and water. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 20 percent of people under the age of 40 and half of adults over 60 in the United States are infected, with higher rates in developing countries.
Having H. pylori infection doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have ulcers or develop stomach cancer.