What Causes Ulcers?

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: Ulcers, Digestive Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Discover the different reasons ulcers develop

Just as there are different types of ulcers due to their location along the digestive tract, there are also different mechanisms that can cause ulcers. Here are some factors that can contribute to ulcer development.

Helicobacter pylori bacterium

An overgrowth of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) can contribute to the development of stomach ulcers. Normal populations of these bacteria, however, have been shown to provide a protective effect for the esophagus. It is, therefore, important not to eliminate H. pylori entirely from the body as a quick fix for treating ulcers.

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Certain Drugs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, cortisone derivatives, and alcohol have all been linked to ulcer development. These drugs cause injury to the protective mucosal lining of the stomach, which results in ulceration and bleeding.

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Low Melatonin Levels

Another cause of ulcers you rarely, if ever, hear mentioned is low melatonin levels. The trigger for melatonin production in the pineal gland is low light levels. As our society stays up later, uses artificial lighting far into the night, and gets less sleep, our bodies obviously produce less melatonin. Decreased melatonin production has been linked to several health problems including the development of ulcers. Animal studies have shown that increasing melatonin levels by even small amounts can have a dramatic effect in both healing and preventing stress-induced ulcers.

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More Dr. Williams Advice on Ulcers

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