March 23, 2010
Helicobacter Pylori Infection Gastric Cancer Risk

You might have a bacteria in your stomach that is upping your cancer risk. This isn't new news. But this latest report underscores the risk.

Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium found in about 50% of humans worldwide, can cause stomach ulcers and, in extreme cases, gastric cancer. In an article for F1000 Medicine Reports, Seiji Shiota and Yoshio Yamaoka discuss the possible eradication of H. pylori infections

Infection by the H. pylori bacterium can approach 100% in developing countries. Most infected people do not have symptoms, but many develop problems including stomach ulcers. H. pylori causes more than 90% of all duodenal ulcers and can also contribute to the development of gastric cancer, which is one of the world's biggest medical problems.

Shiota and Yamaoka, from Oita University, Japan, and Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, respectively, report on a large multicenter trial in Japan. Patients with early gastric cancer were randomly treated with H. pylori antibiotics after surgical resection and were followed up for three years. Patients who received antibiotic treatment had a significantly lower risk of developing gastric cancer, confirming the importance of careful management of H. pylori.

Have any readers gotten themselves tested for H. pylori even though you weren't suffering from an ulcer? Did you test positive and then get treated with antibiotics as a cancer preventative?

Couples should probably get tested and treated together to cut the risks of reinfection.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 March 23 11:35 PM  Aging Cancer Studies

Black Death said at March 24, 2010 7:36 AM:

Helicobacter is a very interesting organism. It thrives in the highly acidic environment of the gastric mucosa by producing a urease, which hydrolyzes urea to produce ammonia and raise the pH. Most other bacteria can't survive in the stomach, but Helicobacter has found its niche.

The role of Helicobacter in the pathogenesis of gastric cancer is not well understood. Helicobacter infection is common, but gastric cancer is relatively uncommon, especially in the US, where its incidence has been declining for years (it's much more common in Japan).

Barry J. Marshall, an internist, and J. Robin Warren, a pathologist, won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2005 for the elucidation of the role that Helicobacter plays in gastritis and ulcer. In an interesting demonstration of the fact that auto-experimentation in medicine is not dead, Marshall ate a Petri dish culture of Helicobacter and produced gastritis in himself.

There are many ways to test for Helicobacter, but by far the easiest (and coolest) is the 13-C breath test, which is easy to do and fairly cheap. Here's a summary of the testing methods (

Endoscopy (gastroscopy) - One or more histological samples of the stomach or intestinal lumen are removed for analysis. Endoscopy is rarely used for the detection of H. pylori alone; it is generally used to identify or rule out other stomach maladies. This testing option is invasive and expensive and requires special training and equipment.
Antibody Testing - Antibody testing relies upon the detection of IgG antibodies specific to H. pylori. Its advantages are its low cost and widespread availability. Some drawbacks, however, limit its use in clinical practice. A meta-analysis found its overall sensitivity and specificity to be 85% and 79%, respectively. Regarding H. pylori blood tests, the ACG 2007 guidelines state that "… a positive test is no better than a coin toss in predicting the presence of active infection."
13C-Urea Breath Test (UBT) – Ingested 13C labeled urea is metabolized in the presence of H. pylori to yield CO2. The labeled gas is absorbed across the gastric mucosa and is subsequently measured in the patient’s expired breath. The ACG (American College of Gastroenterology) claims that the urea breath test provides reliable means of identifying active H. pylori infection before antibiotic therapy. Moreover, the ACG asserts that the UBT is the most reliable non-endoscopic test to document eradication of H. pylori infection
Stool Antigen Test - This laboratory test can detect foreign proteins (antigens) in stool samples that are associated with H. pylori infection. Stool samples require patient compliance, are inconvenient to handle, and results are not immediately known.

marissa said at March 24, 2010 10:00 AM:

My boyfriend had stomach problems back in 2006, which kept recurring even after several months on Prevacid. When he finally got in to see a specialist, the endoscopy and bloodwork revealed that he had an h. pylori infection, a sizable duodenal ulcer, and a tumor which had already metastasized outside the stomach. They gave him a small surgery and chemotherapy, but it was really too late for a long-term solution at that point.

I (as well as several other close mutual friends) got tested for h. pylori, but we all turned up negative. So it's a mystery. Nowadays, I always get an h. pylori test if I have stomach problems for more than a day or two.

KTWO said at March 24, 2010 2:11 PM:

It is nice to know exactly how much the antibiotics help immediately and in later years.

Still, I thought antibiotic treatment for HP was now established medicine and always used, with or without surgery, in ulcer and gastric cancer treatments.

KTWO said at March 24, 2010 3:20 PM:

By the way, I want to locate a organizational chart for government administration of ObamaCare. Most hits on Google are not current and the ones that are current haven't helped me.

Similarly, I would also like to locate a well done PowerPoint presentation of the plan.

Can anyone recommend well designed ones? Liberal, conservative, I don't care. Only facts and a good format matter.

Person of Choler said at March 25, 2010 2:04 PM:

A podcast worth listening to by anybody interested in the validity of studies like the one referenced here:

An article addressing some of the same issues:

Gary H. said at March 25, 2010 2:06 PM:

I suffered from bad stomach and upper GI problems for two days but thought it was something else, finally I went to the ER in the middle of the night. The ER doc was about to release me from the hospital after finding nothing specific, and at the last moment decided to do an H. Pylori test. Well, he found it and put me on the four-antibiotic course of treatment and it was eradicated.

I still have some stomach problems and some gastric reflux and the belief is that H. Pylori was only part of a larger problem related to stress and anxiety. I had a huge battery of tests done: MRI's, cat scans, barium x-rays, endoscopy, you name it. There was nothing, no ulcers, no tumors, nothing.

Joe said at March 25, 2010 4:20 PM:

I have major acid reflux, so the doc wanted an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (endoscopy of upper GI tract) done. Cost me $1000 on my deductible. They found benign polyps, no Barretts and H.Pylori. Went on a mega dose of antibiotics. One thing I've learned is that finding out if H.Pylori is gone is complicated. The urea breath test isn't even done in my area (apparently it's rather unreliable despite some claims to the contrary.) In the end, the doctor decided it was gone.

BTW, severe acid reflux has a higher chance of causing other problems, like Barretts Syndrome, which can lead to esophageal cancer.

The GI doc had me double my dose of Prilosec, which made it prescription, which made it cheaper. It's working well.

PETER SWORDER said at March 25, 2010 4:57 PM:

Interesting article

I had a severe problem over about a year from acid reflux, and a particular difficulty with breads, which I suspected was related to an adverse reaction to gluten. I am 67

A great doctor, for whom I have much respect, told me about a Western Australian doctor/reseracher who received a Nobel Prize for his work in developing a simple treatment for HP

The prescription course of three drugs lasted 7 days, cost pennies, and completely cured all of the symtoms from which I was suffering

Prior to the course I had been taking amoxycillin regularly as a method of combatting the reflux, and this helped considerably

I now know that amoxycillin is one of the three drugs given to cure problems with HP. I now have no acid reflux, and breads do not now cause any problems for me

Hope this helps those with acid reflux

Augustus said at March 25, 2010 5:19 PM:

Do a little search at Science Daily for H.Pylori. One report seemed to show that there is a very high incidence in Alzheimer's victims. Also one of the common herbal preventatives that people are trying as a preventative for Alzheimer's and various cancers is curcumin from tumeric. It is pretty effective against h.pylori as well. If you take the h.pylori test and are positive you might consider some diet change treatment before the antibiotics if you are not in real distress. The antibiotics wipe out a whole lot of stuff along with the target h.pylori. Look at the antimicrobial / antibacterial effects of oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary and tumeric. There are several others that would be pretty easy to incorporate into the diet regularly. Broccoli sprouts also seem to do the job.

Charles said at April 12, 2010 9:47 AM:

H. Pylori IS the underlying "5th Element Type" that allows other bacteria to invade and cause all kinds of problems. Because H. Pylori thrives in acid, everyone immediately reaches for antacids. This quells the H. Pylori and, in sufficient quantity, these acid prohibitors will send the H. Pylori into a dormant state. THIS IS WHY THE Breath Tests (Rapid Urease or Rapid Urea Tests) as well as Biospies that are subjected to a Rapid Urease Test and even Pathology FAIL TO IDENTIFY the bacteria. The Urease Test to function REQUIRES the bacteria to interact with the chemical in the test. If it is in it's modified state, it will not react giving you a FALSE NEGATIVE RESULT.

With the lower level (or nearly total absence of) acid in the system, other bacteria can exist and even thrive in the digestive system. This is why 95% of all Gastric Ulcers are attributed to the presence of H. Pylori as well as virtually all forms of digestive cancers. The only way to determine absolutely if you have H. Pylori and then get it eradicated is through a Biopsy and having the TZAM Diagnostics Multiplex PCR Test performed. This test is a DNA test that specifically searches for the DNA of the bacteria. It is not affected by antibiotics or acid inhibitors. It has been through 9 Clinical Trials and it has a 99.9% Specificity Rate (means if the test says its there then its there) as well as a 99.9% Sensitivity Rate (means that if there is even a single bacteria present, it can be found).

Everyone should demand that their physician order the Multiplex PCR Test for H. Pylori. It is covered by all insurances and can be done in 3 days or less. More information can be found out about it along with information about H. Pylori at Ignoring the bacteria is inviting intestinal disaster...if not today or tomorrow then at some point in the future. Senator Lautenburg nearly died from a bleeding ulcer AND he wound up with cancer to boot.

Dr Rucha said at July 6, 2010 1:29 PM:

I'm a post graduate student , while preparing for my post graduation enterance examinations i had come across that errradication of H Pylori infection leads to increase chances of Carcinoma Esophagus.. I didnt find much matter in support of this but in trying to get answer to my dout .. can any1 explain me the correct pathology n etiology behind it??

LLH said at November 15, 2010 7:37 PM:

For those patients and docs trying to find a better mousetrap to detect H Pylori, look no further. We just released a multi-plex PCR (genetic test) that has proven to detect 20% more positive cases over current testing methods. What this means is that those problem patients that keep coming back negative can now be found and treated. This test is immune to those patient on PPI's as well. It's simple to administer and is paid for by medicare and insurance. Tests results in few days. Just released in Houston, TX and other major cities. Interested parties simply email to:

Dr Muhammad Akram Tatri said at December 16, 2010 7:00 AM:

Worldwide, cancer still represents the third leading cause of death after cardiovascular and infectious diseases. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a causative agent in the pathogenesis of chronic active gastritis of the stomach, on which severe diseases such as duodenal and gastric ulcer may develop [1]. The spectrum of H. pylori-associated diseases is, however, still expanding. There is strong evidence to show that H. pylori infection may also be associated with gastric neoplasms, i.e., carcinoma of the stomach and primary low-grade B cell gastric lymphoma of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue, known as MALT lymphoma [1]. Our knowledge of the pathogenesis of gastric neoplasms is therefore increasing, and new approaches to the prevention of gastric cancer by antibiotic treatment of a precursor of this disease, namely H. pylori gastritis, can be considered. Gastric and gastro-esophageal adenocarcinomas are a major health burden globally. The incidence of upper gastrointestinal malignancies varies widely based on geographic location, race, and socioeconomic class.
Gastric cancer remains the world’s third most common malignancy.1 A 2005 analysis of the global incidence and cancer related mortality revealed that 934,000 cases of gastric cancer occurred in 2002 and approximately 700,000 patients died annually from this problem.2 In 1996, about 22,800 new cases of stomach cancer were registered in the United States alone, and 14,000 succumbed to it. In industrialized countries, mortality from gastric cancer has declined steadily over the years whereas gastric cancer remains a leading cause of death from cancer in the developing world.
Geographical residence and dietary habits may play a part in the pathogenesis of gastric cancer. Social class and socioeconomic conditions of the inhabitants confer a significantly increased risk of developing gastric cancer. There is considerable intra-regional variation within high-risk areas. Migration from high to low risk areas and adopting dietary habits of the host country modifies the risk in second or third generations. Screening gastric cancer has been advocated in geographic regions where the prevalence of this disease is high. This study deals with upper GI cancers in the predominantly rural socioeconomically disadvantaged population of northern region of Pakistan.

Sheila May said at July 20, 2015 5:44 PM:

Thank you for your information.
I have been wasting my time and money going to Mid-Michigan U of M Ann Arbor. 5 trips to their ER and 3 were misdiagnosed. These were other problems, not H. Pylori.

But, I now know I have had classical symptoms for H. Pylori for at least 2 years. Mid-Michigan U of M Ann Arbor did and endoscope and a protascope and they never saw a thing. Yeah, right.

Persistent indigestion,belly fill of wind, difficulty swallowing,A lot of shortness of Breath, which was diagnosed by ER at Mid-Michigan U of M Ann Arbor as COPD, even though I had had a battery of 'lung type' tests with in a few weeks PRIOR at the same facility.

Frequent belching and burping,Heartburn and acid reflux-type symptoms, Full feeling, Bloating, Fatigue, tired, Stomach pain,nausea and sick, and just plumb ucky.

I had been in a Tractor-auto accident life-flighted to St. Mary's in Saginaw, who forgot to tell me about a 4.8 aneurism and a few other problems. I found them later in their 'Reports.'

Point is Mid-Michigan U of M Ann Arbor had 3+ years to find it, before or after the 'classic' symptoms. So get your reports, understand what your symptoms might mean.
Do not take anyone else's guess.

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