Thursday, 6 October 2005

'Bloody obvious' Nobel Prize winners

Congratulations to the two Australian doctors who just won the Nobel Prize for medicine for their discovery of what causes ulcers. Contrary to the previously received wisdom that it is stress that causes ulcers, Robin Warren and Barry Marshall knew the real cause -- a bacterium called H. Pylori -- and Marshall swallowed a beaker of bacterium to prove it.
"It is nice to be officially recognised and it gives some sort of a stamp of approval, but we believed it within a few months because it was so bloody obvious," Warren told reporters... The two men made their discovery in the early 1980s, but it took a long time to convince the medical community, who viewed them as eccentric. "The idea of stress and things like that [as the cause of ulcers] was just so entrenched nobody could really believe that it was a bacteria," Dr Marshall told the Associated Press.
They do now. Ulcers can now be cured with a short-term course of drugs and antibiotics, and I have formerly ulcer-ridden friends to submit as evidence the cure works. They and thousands of others have been raising a glasss or two to Marshall and Warren for years.
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  1. Robert Winefield6 Oct 2005, 10:10:00

    "...was just so entrenched that nobody would believe it."

    To whit: (quoted from the Sydney Morning Herald - article at this address:

    "The vast majority of the medical profession, not only in Australia but worldwide, considered Barry to be a quack and really were extremely dismissive for a number of years." Adrienne says her husband's aggressiveness in selling his message - unlike many doctors, he has never been media-shy - was simply a reflection of extreme frustration. "It was a tremendous struggle to get his work presented and published"

    You'd have thought that Barry was proposing something off the wall - like alien abductions cause ulcers.

    The fact that bacterial infections often cause cellular damage in other tissues of the body was ignored and their hypothesis and evidence were dismissed out of hand.

    The excuse (according to the article) for this idiotic behaviour is that Barry Warren was too cocky and brash when presenting his results. Shame on him!

    Comtemplating the stupidity of the medical profession in this case is enough to give me ulcers.

  2. And I bet those very same doctors will point at the Catholic Church and laugh at their rejection of an heliocentric solar system.

    The more things change ...

  3. To me, this is like the medical equivalent of saying:

    Guns don't kill people, projectiles do!

    OK, so a bacterium is the last link in the chain. Well, technically you can only claim that it was in the people your studied. But so what?

    What conditions, practices, foods, or other conditions trigger the build-up of this bacteria?

    Knowing that in general, being stressed out all the time causes ulcers - by whatever process - was useful. Because you know that by reducing the level of stress in your life, that you don't do other things that trigger the build-up of the bacteria.

    There seems to be an inordinate amount of effort being expended here to deny the link between emotion and health. This an extremely destructive attitude towards the body, and ignores the wealth of medical experience in the world.

    I really hope that this study will not result in a pill to be given to people who lead stressful lives because they have "high levels of H. Pylori".

  4. This drama reminds me of a book that I recently read called ‘Emperor of Scent’ by Chandler Burr. This is a page turning story about the scientist - Luca Turin - whose research went against the established ‘knowledge’ of how we smell.

    Luca is a passionate man and he too found it difficult to get his theories accepted – he was also considered “too cocky and brash”. An added bonus is the beginning of the book that chronicles his hobby and absolute love of perfumes. Well worth the read.

  5. Hell, sounds a bit like the Global Warming Myth, and the hysteria surrounding it.

    I suggest we replace the words "ulcer" with "global warming", and "stress" with "man and cars".

    "The idea of stress and things like that (as the cause of ulcers) was just so entrenched nobody could really believe that it was a bacteria".

    "The idea of man and cars (as the cause of global warming) was just so entrenched nobody could really believe that it was sunspot activity".

    Just goes to show how hysteria and the media can smear 2 totally unrelated issues.


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