Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Eliminating common bacterial infection significantly decreases gastric cancer risk

While it is well known within the medical community that there is a link between the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and rates of gastric cancer -- commonly referred to as stomach cancer -- the rates and risk among Americans has been largely understudied.

Now, after analyzing records of close to 400,000 patients, researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, have found that successfully eliminating H. pylori from one's gastrointestinal tract led to a 75 percent reduction in risk of gastric cancer. Researchers also found that rates of gastric cancer after detection of H. pylori infection are higher among specific populations, suggesting that people who fall into these groups could benefit from more careful monitoring.
H. pylori is estimated to infect half of the world's population, largely those in the eastern parts of the world. It can cause ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues but does not cause issues in the majority of people, and so many people are unaware they have it.

The research team found that African American, Asian, Hispanic and Latinx, American Indian and Inuit Americans have significantly higher risk of H. pylori infection and of developing gastric cancer. Risks, when compared to the general population, are also higher among men, those who smoke, and among those whose H. pylori infection is detected in older age.

Eradication of H. pylori infection dropped gastric cancer risk by about 75 percent, but that simply prescribing the H. pylori regimen does not decrease the likelihood of getting this cancer. Authors noted that this finding suggests physicians should ensure that the bacteria is eradicated after treatment, a consensus guideline recommendation that is often not followed due to the cumbersome nature of H. pylori testing.

While H. pylori and gastric cancer have serious consequences, Kumar is optimistic that the information from this study can lead to further research on the merits of increasing screening. Screening for H. pylori requires an endoscopic procedure, breath test, or stool sample, so it's necessarily not easy. In addition, even among the number of people in the United States who contract H. pylori, most do not develop gastric cancer.


Shria Kumar, David C. Metz, Susan Ellenberg, David E. Kaplan, David S. Goldberg. Risk Factors and Incidence of Gastric Cancer After Detection of Helicobacter pylori Infection: A Large Cohort Study. Gastroenterology, 2019; DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.10.019

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)

1 comment:

  1. Great article - how do you eliminate H. Pylori though?


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