Ulcer.

I was 6 when I first heard of this medical jargon from an uncle whose profession is both a physician and a smart ass. 'Pep' in peptic ulcer was supposed to stand for Pepsi (how plainer can it get?) and drinking too much, especially early in the morning results to, well, ulcer. I had to suck everything in without question. But my smart ass of an uncle failed to mention that early research findings listed alcoholic and caffein beverages as contributing causes of ulcer, too, so (had I put my nerdish pursuits to good use then) I should've made a smart ass of myself and admonished his fondness for beer and capuccino.

Fast forward to 2005.

The recepients of this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine are scientists Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, whose research on ulcer makes them more than winners but winning smart asses as well. As early as 1982, these Australian scientists discovered the Helicobacter pylori bacterium (now known as the ulcer bug) that breeds and infects the stomach lining. But instead of shouting 'Eureka!', the medical community saw this discovery as a product of two smart asses out to debunk the popular belief that ulcers are caused by acid, stress, and (to some) spicy food: Earth became the center of the universe all over again and Marshall and Warren became the Galileos of the 20th Century. Popular Belief: a common conundrum encountered by smart asses.

Well, thanks to the Nobel Prize, this conundrum was reduced to misconceptions on ulcers; thanks to the Nobel Prize, the smart asses were acknowledged and recognized to the hilt.

And so we find that ulcers are mere infections that can easily be treated by doctors with simple antibiotics. Hail to Marshall and Warren for their discovery for we can now truly enjoy drinking beer, soda, and coffee without worrying about ulcers! The only symptom to worry about now is gaining pounds and the dreaded beer belly.

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