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Elimination of Helicobacter Pylori Lowers Gastric Cancer Risk in Healthy Individuals

Dr. Alexander Ford, MBChB, MD, from St. James's University Hospital and Leeds University in the United Kingdom, and team have reported that elimination of Helicobacter pylori lowers gastric cancer risk in healthy individuals. This systematic review of six trials was published recently in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Dr. Alexander Ford cautioned that five positive trials were mainly based on Asian populations and this data cannot be extrapolated to other populations.

Dr. Alexander Ford and team conducted their trials on 6,497 asymptomatic, healthy adults who tested positive for the presence Helicobacter pylori. The definition of gastric cancer was established as any gastric adenocarcinoma, including the diffuse (undifferentiated) type or intestinal (differentiated) type or without specified histology type. Therapy used to eradicate Helicobacter pylori consists of a 7- to 14-day course of antibiotics either monotherapy or in combination with bismuth, acid suppressant therapy, or both. The asymptomatic, healthy adults were divided into two groups for these trials. One group was the group with antibiotic treatment and the other group was without treatment or was on placebo.

Their study result showed that the incidence of gastric cancer was 51 of 3294 people in the antibiotic treatment group as compared with 76 of 3,203 people in the placebo or no treatment group. Two cases in the treatment group developed esophageal cancer as compared with one case in the placebo or no treatment group. Further details of the study result can be found here. Dr. Alexander Ford and team admitted that they could not assess the balance between harms and benefits of population treatment and screening for Helicobacter pylori infection if these methods were adopted as a public health measure. Dr. Alexander Ford added that this systematic review emphasized the need for further trials in different populations to show more evidence that elimination of Helicobacter pylori can lower gastric cancer risk in healthy individuals and these trials should demonstrate both the harms and benefits of such an approach.

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