The bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers may also be a contributing factor to diabetes.
A new study by researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center has linked the ulcer-causing bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) to higher blood sugar levels in diabetics.
The association was even stronger in obese people, which suggests the bacteria may play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes, according to the study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
"The prevalence of obesity and diabetes is growing at a rapid rate, so the more we know about what factors impact these conditions, the better chance we have for doing something about it," said lead researcher Dr. Yu Chen.
For the study, researchers examined the effect of the bacteria on a known biomarker for blood sugar levels and diabetes – known as blood glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c). They found the connection by tracking the health records of participants in two National Health and Nutrition Surveys since the late 1990s.
"We hypothesized that [obesity] and the presence of H. pylori would have a synergistic effect, increasing HbA1c even more than the sum of the individual effect of either risk factor alone,” said Dr. Martin J. Blaser, a co-researchcer. “ We now know that this is true."
Researchers said the findings suggest indicate eradicating H. pylori using antibiotics in some older obese individuals could be beneficial.
Type II diabetes causes an estimated 3.8 million adult deaths globally.