ulcers: due a comeback?



The following question from Joe got lost on its way to a nostalgia list show:

What happened to ulcers?

Growing up in Canada in the 70’s I remember hearing about people getting ulcers, or worrying about ulcers, but now nobody ever speaks of them. I have some hypotheses:

1. I’m wrong. People still get ulcers and worry about them just like they always have but I am a statistical anomaly living blissfully in an ulcer-free bubble of reality.

2. In the 70’s complaining about ulcers was code for “I need valium”. So nobody really had ulcers; it was all a grownup scam that my child brain didn’t understand. As the fashion in over-the-counter medications have shifted, so to did the disease to which they were attributed.

3. In the intervening years since my youth a cure for ulcers has been discovered so people are diagnosed with them at the same rate as always but they just take a pill and it goes away.

4. Ulcers are now better understood and what we though was one ailment is really a set of sypmtoms that can be atributed to various different causes. So the term itself has been dissolved because medical science has better way to describe the and diagnose the problem(s).

Be it the health of the company I keep, the place in which I live, or the topics deemed suitable for interesting conversations, I have been privy to a consistently small amount of ulcer-chat throughout my life. But readers: can you answer this for Joe? Are his observations correct or not?

Perhaps he’s right and ulcers have simply gone out of fashion in the way of other classic 70s things, like velour bell-bottoms, key parties and Brotherhood of Man.


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3 Responses to “ulcers: due a comeback?”

  1. SoRefined Says:

    I would add that people focus more on acid reflux now (at least in the US), which is a broader issue than peptic ulcers, I think. And also a lucrative condition for various pharmaceutical companies.

    For the record, I had an ulcer in about 1996. Not pleasant.

  2. samuelfurse Says:

    Alex is indeed right and beat me to replying, dammit! Here’s the link to the announcement on the Nobel Prize site, to save you googling… http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2005/press.html

  3. Alex Says:

    Until the 80s, the general opinion was that ulcers were caused by stress. Barry Marshall experimented on himself by drinking bacteria (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/07/05/when-scientists-experiment-on-themselves-h-pylori-and-ulcers/) to prove that’s what caused them. He won the Nobel prize and now antibiotics can cure lots of ulcers. Go science!


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