Stomach ulcer bug causes bad breath

November 24, 2008

Bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and cancer could also be giving us bad breath, according to research published in the December issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology. For the first time, scientists have found Helicobacter pylori living in the mouths of people who are not showing signs of stomach disease.

The mouth is home to over 600 different species of bacteria, some of which can cause disease. Helicobacter pylori has recently been shown to cause stomach ulcers and is also responsible for a large proportion of gastric cancers. Scientists estimate that between 20 and 80 % of people in the developed world and over 90 % of people in the developing world carry the bacterium.

"Recently, scientists discovered that H. pylori can live in the mouth," said Dr Nao Suzuki from Fukuoka Dental College in Fukuoka, Japan. "We wanted to determine whether the bacteria can cause bad breath, so we tested patients complaining of halitosis for the presence of H. pylori."

The researchers found the bacteria in the mouths of 21 out of 326 Japanese people with halitosis (6.4%). In these people, the concentration of a bad breath gas and the level of oral disease was significantly higher. In patients with periodontal (gum) disease, 16 of 102 people (15.7%) had H. pylori in their mouths.

"Halitosis is a common problem in humans, and bad breath is largely caused by periodonitis, tongue debris, poor oral hygiene and badly fitted fillings," said Dr. Suzuki. "Bacteria produce volatile compounds that smell unpleasant, including hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulphide. Doctors often measure the levels of these compounds to diagnose the problem. Gastrointestinal diseases are also generally believed to cause halitosis."

Patients who were carrying H. pylori had more blood in their saliva and were also carrying Prevotella intermedia, which is one of the major periodontal bacteria.

"Although the presence of H. pylori in the mouth does not directly cause bad breath, it is associated with periodontal disease, which does cause bad breath," said Dr. Suzuki. "We now need to look into the relationship between H. pylori in the mouth and in the stomach. We hope to discover the role of the mouth in transmitting H. pylori stomach infections in the near future."

Source: Society for General Microbiology

Explore further: Commensal bacteria were critical shapers of early human populations

Related Stories

Why bacteria are beautiful, and why we need them

March 26, 2014

For every one of the 7 billion people on Earth, up to 10 times that many bacteria have taken up residence in and on them. "We provide a nice home for them," said Nobel laureate Sir Richard Roberts, who was recently appointed ...

Study shows how flu infections may prevent asthma

December 13, 2010

In a paper that suggests a new strategy to prevent asthma, scientists at Children's Hospital Boston and their colleagues report that the influenza virus infection in young mice protected the mice as adults against the development ...

Stomach stem cell discovery could bring cancer insights

October 4, 2007

Scientists have identified and described stem cells specific to several tissues and organs of the body — key master cells that give rise to the specialized cell types characteristic of that organ. But to date, it hasn’t ...

Recommended for you

On soft ground? Tread lightly to stay fast

October 8, 2015

These findings, reported today, Friday 9th October, in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomechanics, offer a new insight into how animals respond to different terrain, and how robots can learn from them.

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

Blue skies, frozen water detected on Pluto

October 8, 2015

Pluto has blue skies and patches of frozen water, according to the latest data out Thursday from NASA's unmanned New Horizons probe, which made a historic flyby of the dwarf planet in July.

New method facilitates research on fuel cell catalysts

October 8, 2015

While the cleaning of car exhausts is among the best known applications of catalytic processes, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Practically the entire chemical industry relies on catalytic reactions. Therefore, catalyst ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Nov 24, 2008
Hope they find a cheap, easy and over all fast cure. 20% is epidemic not to mention 90%, many people contract stomach cancer or ulcers. This costs insurance companies (billed to you and me) fortunes.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.