Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Helicobacter pylori may cause cancer of the stomach


May 13, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that lives in the human gut, is capable of causing severe health complications including carcinomas. Certain genotypes of H pylori have higher predictive value for the development of intestinal-type cancer at an early age.
Researchers at the Centre for Liver Research and Diagnostics, Deccan College of Medical Sciences and the Department of Gastroenterology, Osmania General Hospital, have suggested that genotyping of H. pylori will serve as a useful tool for screening people at increased risk of developing malignancy. The city study is in contrast to earlier findings that H. pylori has no role in gastric cancers.
The study was led by eminent gastroenterologist CM Habibullah. Malignant tumours of the stomach are common, but the incidence of stomach cancer varies from country to country, probably a result of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors.
"Stomach cancer often occurs in older people whose stomachs produce only small quantities of acid. Although infection with Helicobacter pylori has been proven beyond doubt in the aetiopathogenesis of various gastric disorders, not much is known about the genotypes of H pylori infection in early-onset gastric cancer," the study noted.
As part of the study, 92 patients were separated into three groups on the basis of their endoscopic findings: group 1, gastric cancer; group 2, gastric ulcer; group 3, non-ulcer dyspepsia.
According to the city team of researchers, gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths world-wide. Malignancy of the stomach is the most common cancer in Asia, nearly two-thirds of which occurs in developing countries.
"Our understanding of gastric cancer underwent a discernible shift with the discovery of Helicobacter pylori. Infection with H pylori probably still plays a leading role in the development of gastric cancer in young patients. In a country such as India, where more than 75 per cent of the population are infected, it has been proved beyond doubt that H pylori infection is high, especially in areas of low socio-economic status and bad hygiene conditions," the scientists said.
In addition, a number of environmental factors have been shown to be associated with gastric cancer, including high-salt diets, N-nitrosamines and low intake of dietary antioxidants typically found in fresh fruit and vegetables.

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