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Cancer of the stomach: eliminating the Helicobacter pylori, and cuts in half the risk
The risk of contracting cancer of the stomach is cut in half if you eradica the Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes gastritis and ulcers and is one of the risk factors of gastric cancer. They have shown the researchers in Korean National Cancer Center in Goyang, which has carried out a clinical study on 1.676 people with Helicobacter p. and familiarity for cancer of the stomach, i.e. with a close relative with the diagnosis of the disease. The results are published in the New England Journal Of Medicine.
A bacterium widespread Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium, very widespread. According to some estimates colonizzerebbe the walls of the stomach of almost half of the inhabitants of the planet. This micro-organism is hardly attacked by the cells of the immune system and survives in the gastric environment due to an enzyme, urease, which in part neutralizes the acidity of the habitat. Once installed in the gastric mucosa, the organism causes an inflammatory state that is persistent, and the inflammation in turn predisposes to the possibility of getting sick. The therapy for the eradication of the bacterium consists of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors.
The study authors randomly distributed the participants - all of which are about 48 years old and with a family history predisposing - in two groups. 832 people was administered lanzoprazolo, a proton pump inhibitor and the antibiotics amoxicillin and clarithromycin; the remaining 844 was instead given a placebo. Neither the participants nor the healthcare professionals who administered the medication or placebo were unaware of who took what (the study was in fact double-blind).
A risk more than halved At a distance of about nine years of age the diagnosis of gastric carcinoma were 10 of 832 (or 1.2%) in the treatment group, and 23 out of 834 (i.e. 2.7%) in the placebo group: that is, the risk of contracting cancer of the stomach, was more than halved in those who has been treated for the Helicobacter pylori. Experts have estimated that in people with a family history for this neoplasm, treat the infection reduces 55-73% the risk of stomach cancer.
to Eradicate the infection, “Helicobacter pylori is definitely a micro-organism is very common, but it should be clear that not all those who have the infection develop a malignancy”, reassures Giordano Beretta, president of the Aiom: “Helicobacter pylori causes stomach cancer, but it is a risk factor for this disease, as indeed it is the familiarity. E - the reasoning of the oncologist - is also shown in this study, Korean: in the placebo group, namely people who have not taken care of the infection, the risk of illness was 2.7% (and remember that this is patients with family history) and then the bottom. However, although not high, this risk is cut in half by eradicating the bacterium. And so, Helicobacter pylori is eradicated: we will have less gastritis and a lower risk of cancer in people with the infection”. But the therapy to be administered is not sufficient: after the treatment, which lasts for a few weeks, you need to make sure that the eradication was. “Make sure it is important – confirmation Beretta – because if the bacterium is still present in the stomach, the risk of falling ill is equal to what you would if the patient had never been subjected to the treatment.”
The side effects According to data reported by the authors of the study in the NEJM, the side effects of the treatment were mostly mild: occurred in 19.1% and 53% of the participants in the placebo group and treatment group, respectively. The most common effects were altered taste, nausea, diarrhea, and pain in the abdomen.
A cancer on the decline, thanks also to the diet In Italy, there are about 12-13 thousand cases per year of carcinoma of the stomach, which represents the fifth neoplasm incidence among men (of 19.5 cases per 100,000) and the seventh among women (compared with 9.3 cases per 100,000). “It is a cancer on the decline in our country, and this essentially for reasons linked to power, which in addition to the Helicobacter, and the familiarity is another risk factor for this disease,” says Beretta. “Over the years, we have reduced the consumption of foods preserved in salt for the benefit of the ones stored in the fridge, he concluded, and the salt is a risk factor, as is excess of red meat in all gastrointestinal tumors”.

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