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Cancer and H. Pylori. (Quick Studies).

People infected with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori have a greater risk of cancer of the stomach and possibly the pancreas, say two studies.

Researchers in Japan, where rates of stomach cancer are high, studied 1,526 patients who had stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, gastic hyperplasia, or dyspepsia (but no ulcers). Three percent of those with H. pylori--and none of those without H. pylori--went on to get stomach cancer over the next eight years. None of the patients who were treated to eradicate their H. pylori developed cancer, however.

And in a study of Finnish male smokers, those with evidence of having had H. pylori infections were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over the next ten years.

What to do: Most people with H. pylori infections have no symptoms. But they are about six times more likely to develop ulcers than others, and the ulcers can cause stomach pain or burning, especially after meals and at night. Even if you have no symptoms, it's worth checking for H. pylori as part of your next blood test (though the H. pylori test isn't foolproof). Once the infection is diagnosed, antibiotics can eliminate it, as well as stomach ulcers and, possibly, the risk of stomach and pancreatic cancers.

New Eng. J. Med. 345: 785, 829, 2001 and J. Nat. Cancer Inst. 93: 937, 2001.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Center for Science in the Public Interest
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:helicobacter pylori
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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