No pooping on PCF’s parade, please!


Some 35+ years ago, a guy called Barry Marshall and his colleague Robin Warren discovered that changes to the levels of certain bacteria in the gut led to development of ulcers … and changed everything about the way ulcers are treated.

In a recent article on the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s web site, Janet Worthington has laid out information suggesting that a similar issue may be highly relevant to the spread of prostate cancer over time, and about research that is being done to explore this.

It may take a while to find out whether there is a real connection between gut levels of specific bacteria and risk for metastatic prostate cancer … but don’t write it off as a possibility.

Along the way to his discovery, Barry Marshall actually gave himself a dose of a bacterial cocktail in a successful attempt to prove his hypothesis about bacteria and ulcers, and then effectively treated himself for the problem. That may not be the best idea if we find out there is a connection between gut bacteria and prostate cancer metastasis … but luckily we have better techniques available today!

Drs. Marshall and Warren won a Nobel Prize for their research … and your sitemaster published the very first formal, peer-reviewed report about their findings, in a report from a workshop held in Belgium in September 1983. At that time Dr. Marshall still thought the bacteria he was finding were Campylobacter species as opposed to Helicobacter pylori, and the workshop was about infections caused by Campylobacter species. Your sitemaster had met Dr. Marshall on a plane flight from London to Belgium.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for this report, and congrats on your long life, LOL. (Was that flight by a large hot air balloon?)

  2. And it happened in Perth, Australia, the most remote large city in the world and as far from the centers of medical research as possible. And it may be because of that remoteness that it happened there. No one to tell him he was so far off when he was on the right track.

  3. While the debate was ongoing, I sat in an outpatient clnic for gastroenterology. A patient came. She had had an ulcer, relieved with omeprazole, but recurrent after discontinuation. Many similar episodes. Then one day she got a three-drug antibiotic treatment for a salpingitis. She was cured — both from the salpingitis and from the ulcer.

    I told my chief that this was an argument for the idea that antibiotics worked better than omeprazole — but he did not accept that.

    Now, I think similar observations might support the role of bacteria and lack of such histories might argue against.

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