DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I had an ulcer and took medicine for it. Presumably it’s healed. Will it come back? In my day, people used to have surgery for ulcers. Why not now? I would like to be done with it and forget it. – J.R.

ANSWER: Your day is today. And today ulcer treatment has undergone a drastic revolution. The discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter (HEEL-ee-coe-BACK-tur) pylori (pie-LORE-ee) won the discoverers a Nobel Prize and changed the way ulcers are handled. This germ, which can survive in the stomach and duodenum (the places where ulcers form), bores a hole through the mucus that protects the digestive-tract lining. Acid and digestive juices seep through those holes, and in short order an ulcer is formed.

Current ulcer therapy aims to eliminate the H. pylori germ, so antibiotics are part of the therapy.

Slowing or almost eliminating the production of stomach acid is as important today as it was in the past. There are a number of powerful medicines that can turn off acid production. Prilosec, Nexium, Aciphex, Prevacid, Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac are among them. If your medicine isn’t on the list, it’s because the list isn’t all-inclusive.

The dual combination of antibiotics and acid suppressants heals most ulcers. The addition of antibiotics to the program not only helps heal ulcers, but it greatly lessens the chances for their recurrence. You can forget about your ulcer, even though you didn’t have surgery.

The need for surgery has become infrequent. However, there are situations where it is called for. If an ulcer doesn’t heal or if it’s bleeding heavily, then a surgeon must step into the picture and deal with the problem in the operating room.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have had several skin cancers in the past five years. In thinking back, I began eating carrots about five years ago, just the time the cancers started. Could there be any connection between the two? I eat one or two carrots every day. – L.H.

ANSWER: No. Carrots don’t cause skin cancer.

The ultraviolet rays of the sun are responsible for many such cancers. With your history of many skin cancers, you shouldn’t stick your head out the door without using a sunblock with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher.

Carrots are good for you. They’re packed with vitamin A, have some vitamin C and a smidgen of many B vitamins.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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