Could This “Stomach Bug” Cause Cancer?

According to recent research, a bacteria that causes some forms of stomach cancer may also be responsible for increased risk of colon cancer. The research points to this being especially true in African American populations. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original article here for further details.

H. pylori

While the current research does not prove that any bacteria is entirely responsible for cancer, there is a remarkable correlation. Researchers examined results from over 4000 patients. Each patient had either colon or rectal cancer. Across the many cases, researchers discovered a significant association between the occurrence of colon or rectal cancer and a certain strain of bacteria known as H. pylori.

Researchers acknowledged that further testing needs to be done. Nothing is proven yet. The link between cancer and bacteria is, however, worth investigating. If it were possible to prevent cancer by the use of simple antibiotics, lives could be saved almost immediately. Another possible avenue for this research involves certain proteins that serves as harbingers of colorectal cancer. Even if they do not have a connection to cancer, it is possible they could serve as effective markers.

Most at Risk

While the correlation seems to hold across race, there was a notable difference between the occurrence of H. pylori in Caucasian patients and African American patients. African American patients averaged higher rates of H. pylori than did Caucasian patients. Researchers also identified a protein called VacA. This protein was most strongly linked to the occurrence of colorectal cancer in African Americans. Specifically, an increased level of antibodies to VacA protein seemed to increase the odds of developing colorectal cancer.

Researchers described this finding as “surprising.” VacA antibodies increased the odds of colorectal cancer in both Asian Americans, and African Americans, but left Caucasians unaffected. As a result of this research, some experts are questioning whether our genetic heritage impacts the types of bacteria we carry with us.

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