DURHAM, N.C. – A bacterium known for causing stomach cancer might also increase the risk of certain colorectal cancers, particularly among African Americans, according to a study led by Duke Cancer Institute researchers.
The finding, published online Oct. 5 in the journal Gastroenterology, describes an association between antibodies to H. pylori bacteria and an increased risk of colorectal cancers, although it does not establish the bacteria as a definitive cause; those studies are ongoing.
But in an analysis of more than 4,000 colorectal cancer cases culled from large, diverse cohort studies, the researchers found a significant correlation between colorectal cancer incidence and those who had been infected with a virulent strain of H. pylori that is especially common among African Americans.
“The link between infection and cancer is intriguing, particularly if we can eradicate it with a simple round of antibiotics,” said lead author Meira Epplein, Ph.D., co-leader of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at Duke Cancer Institute. “Our study provides strong evidence that we need to pursue this research to establish a definitive cause-and-effect.”
Epplein and colleagues collected data from 10 large regional and national studies, including the Southern Community Cohort Study, the Nurses Health Study, the Women’s
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