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Who would have thought that drugs to get rid of Helicobacter pylori, a common gastrointestinal microbe, could help with cholesterol? Research, published in the American Journal of Cardiology (January 15, 2004), found that eradicating H pylori could increase blood levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL; "good") cholesterol. In theory, such treatment could reduce an individual's risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
For the study, the researchers evaluated changes in cholesterol levels of 87 patients who were placed on anti?H pylori medications to treat intestinal ulcers. The results showed that the elimination of H pylori was associated with a dramatic increase in HDL cholesterol. Total cholesterol levels went up, but their rise was overshadowed by the increase in HDL cholesterol. The researchers noted that the increase in HDL is "at least as strong" as that routinely seen in patients treated with statins.