A study shows that infection with Helicobacter pylori plays a complicated role in esophageal cancer.
We already know that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori plays a role in gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. What’s not obvious is whether it is also involved with esophageal cancer. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, attempted to answer this question by looking at the incidence of infection in patients with two different types of esophageal cancer.
Earlier work suggested that Helicobacter pylori infection could be linked to decreased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma, perhaps because the infection leads to gastric atrophy and reduced exposure to stomach acid. In this study, the reduced risk was confirmed but found not to be linked to atrophy. Meanwhile, infection was linked to a two fold increase in squamous cell esophageal carcinoma and the risk was even higher when gastric atrophy was present. The findings suggest that the role of Helicobacter pylori in esophageal cancer is complex and worthy of further investigation.