Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that causes chronic inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach (gastritis) in humans. This bacterium also is the most common cause of ulcers worldwide. H. pylori infection is most likely acquired by ingesting contaminated food and water and through person to person contact. In the United States, 30% of the adult population is infected. (50% of infected persons are infected by the age of 60.) The infection is more common in crowded living conditions with poor sanitation. In countries with poor sanitation, 90% of the adult population can be infected. Infected individuals usually carry the infection indefinitely unless they are treated with medications to eradicate the bacterium. One out of every six patients with H. pylori infection will develop ulcers of the duodenum or stomach. H. pylori also is associated with stomach cancer and a rare type of lymphocytic tumor of the stomach called MALT lymphoma.
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