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H Pylori Is The Number One Risk Factor For Gastric Cancer

One of the most disturbing topics in emails we receive is this:

“I’ve been to my doctor and he/she has told me that everyone has H pylori and that it’s not dangerous”

The research and medical literate suggests otherwise and I’d like to propose that you should read this article in its entirety if you have H pylori or you’re a doctor or healthcare professional who treats H pylori.

I’m going to use the medical literature to show you how important it is to take H pylori seriously and, in the context of cancer, and because I am not a doctor, it is better for me to cite and quote the literature than simply give my own opinion.

Before I start, by clicking either of these links, you can see a list of class I carcinogens (the links should open in a new window so you won’t lose this page):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_IARC_Group_1_carcinogens

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/generalinformationaboutcarcinogens/known-and-probable-human-carcinogens

You’ll see that Helicobacter pylori infection sits in there nicely alongside tobacco smoking, arsenic, asbestos, UV radiation and others as a potent cancer-risk.

Gastric Cancer, also known as stomach cancer, is the second most frequent cancer worldwide.

Once it has developed to an advanced stage, 5-year survival rates are only 10-15%. Therefore, early detection and adequate surgery remain the pivotal components in the battle against the disease.

This isn’t a good prognosis, but I’d like you to consider and remember that only a very small percentage of H pylori infections lead to gastric cancer. In fact, it is thought that 1-3% of people infected with H pylori will develop stomach cancer.

Still, if we consider that half the world’s population is infected with H pylori, 1-3% is still represents many millions of people.

In 2010, in an article from the Journal Helicobacter entitled Clinical Aspects of Gastric Cancer and Helicobacter pylori – Screening, Prevention and Treatment, the following statements are made in the second paragraph:

Although the incidence of gastric cancer differs between continents, the infection with Helicobacter pylori is the most important risk factor in all geographic areas

Several studies in the last year have gained further evidence that eradication of the bacteria is one of the most promising preventive strategies in the fight against gastric cancer

In light of these statements, why do some doctors tell patients that everyone has H pylori and that it’s harmless?

If stomach cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer worldwide, and H pylori is the biggest risk factor for developing the disease, shouldn’t all H pylori infections be taken seriously?

A further statement from the aforementioned article goes on to say:

H pylori eradication prevents gastric cancer development, and it seems the earlier the bacteria gets eradicated, the more significant is the decrease in gastric cancer risk”

A study 2010 from Digestive Diseases journal states:

“The majority of gastric adenocarcinomas are related to the chronic inflammation induced by Helicobacter pylori infection”

A further study, this time from the Journal of Digestive Diseases states:

Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection plays a key role in gastric carcinogenesis, supported by epidemiological, preclinical and clinical studies. The recognition of H pylori infection as a critical risk factor in the development of gastric cancer opens up the chance for new avenues in prevention strategies”

I think you get the picture.

It’s not my intention to frighten you with this information, but it’s detail that you NEED to know because unfortunately, most of the other website you peruse, or the doctors you work with, simply don’t realize how dangerous it can be to leave H pylori untreated.

You simply cannot afford to have the wrong information, or information that is incomplete when you are dealing with these issues.

Therefore, if you know you have H pylori, gastritis (stomach inflammation), ulcers and other symptoms, you MUST get the H pylori treated.

It is not good enough to simply to take triple therapy antibiotics and assume that the H pylori bacteria have been eradicated. You MUST get re-tested after treatment to ensure that the bacteria have been properly eradicated.

I also recommend periodic lab testing (once every 6 months)  to ensure that your digestive system remains clear of H pylori.

Finally, because H pylori can be passed from person-to-person, I also recommend that family members, spouses, girlfriends/boyfriends are all tested, even if they do not have obvious symptoms. If this is not done, there is a risk of the bacteria being passed back and forth within families.

The bottom line is that H pylori is a risk factor for cancer. If you’d like additional information on the infection as well as information on how to reduce symptoms using diet and natural supplements, read The H Pylori Diet.

Although we are not medical doctors and do not diagnose or treat specific illnesses or diseases, we can help you reduce or alleviate many symptoms using Functional Medicine and nutrition & lifestyle coaching.

NOTE: If you suspect you may have a serious medical condition, please contact a licensed physician.

Updated References on H Pylori & Stomach Cancer

Selgrad et al. Clinical Aspects of Gastric Cancer & Helicobacter pylori – Screening, Prevention & Treatment. Helicobacter. 2010:15 (Suppl. 1): 40-45.

Bornschein et al. From Gastric Inflammation to Gastric Cancer. Dig Dis. 2010:28(4-5):609-14. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

Malfertheiner et al. Role of Helicobacter pylori Infection in Gastric Cancer Pathogenesis: A Chance For Prevention. J Dig Dis. 2010 Feb;11(1):2-11.

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