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Common Bacterium May to Blame for Some Stomach Cancers

A common bacterium found in an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population may be at the root of some cases of stomach cancer. Long linked to peptic ulcers, Helicobacter pylori may be much more nefarious than many realize.

Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori for short, is a bacterium that is found in the mucus layer of the stomach. This bacterium may also attach itself to the cells in the inner surface of the stomach. While the immune system may attack the bacterium, its effects do not reach the stomach lining. The bacterium has also managed to create abilities that can render immune responses infective. Although H. pylori has been human concern for centuries, linked to ulcers, its significant role in stomach cancers is a relatively new finding. It was named a carcinogen in 1994 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

  1. pylori is now one considered one of the primary causes of gastric cancer. This disease strikes an estimated 21,000 Americans each year. It is responsible for nearly 11,000 deaths annually. With H. pylori deemed such a high-risk factor, it is strongly recommended people take action against this bacterial infection.
  2. pylori is typically spread through contaminated water and food. It may also spread due to direct mouth-to-mouth contact. Although more of a concern in developing parts of the world, this bacterium is still a concern in the United States to a degree. With that in mind, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people with active gastric or duodenal ulcers or a history of such ulcers be tested for this infection. Treatment with antibiotics has been proven to work in many cases.

Gastric cancers are considered relatively rare in the United States, but they tend to be quite difficult to treat as evidence by the poor survival rates. People who suffer from ulcers are urged to talk with their doctors about testing for H. pylori as a result. Treating this infection, if it’s found, may help improve overall stomach health while cutting cancer risks.



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