Helicobacter pylori is highly adapted for colonization of the human stomach and is present in about half of the human population. When present, H pylori is usually the numerically dominant gastric microorganism. H pylori typically does not cause any adverse effects, but it is associated with an increased risk of noncardia gastric adenocarcinoma, gastric lymphoma, and peptic ulcer. Disorders such as esophageal diseases and childhood-onset asthma were recently reported to occur more frequently in individuals who lack H pylori than in H pylori-positive persons. In this review, we discuss biologic factors that allow H pylori to colonize the human stomach, mechanisms by which H pylori increases the risk of peptic ulcer disease and noncardia gastric adenocarcinoma, and potential benefits that H pylori might confer to humans.
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