Washington: Japanese scientists have found that it is possible to eradicate Helicobacter pylori infections by using antibiotics.
H pylori can cause stomach ulcers and, in extreme cases, gastric cancer.
Seiji Shiota and Yoshio Yamaoka from Oita University, Japan and Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, respectively, gave H. pylori antibiotics to patients with early gastric cancer after surgical resection and were followed up for three years.
It was found that patients who received antibiotic treatment had a significantly lower risk of developing gastric cancer, confirming the importance of careful management of H. pylori.
However, certain populations (e.g. India and Thailand) have a high prevalence of H pylori infection but a low incidence of gastric cancer.
It is believed that certain strains of H. pylori (especially east-Asian cytotoxin-associated gene [cagA]-positive strains) might carry an increased risk of developing gastric cancer, but currently identified cagA genotypes in the Asia-Pacific are not associated with cancer.
"Bacterial virulence factors, host genetic factors, and environmental factors contribute to the risk for developing gastric cancer, and further studies are necessary,” wrote the researchers.
However, they warned that practitioners should exercise caution with regard to widespread antibiotic treatment.
"If all infected persons are to be treated, we should consider the increase in frequency of antibiotic resistance and unexpected consequences such as esophageal adenocarcinoma, asthma, and autoimmune disease,” they said.