Can An H. Pylori Infection Be A Precursor To Stomach Cancer?
Helicobacter Pylori is a common bacterial infection that attacks the lining of the stomach, causing ulcers, bloating, abdominal pain, and lack of appetite. Many people have no idea they have it. This spiral-shaped bacterium is thought to infect up to half the world’s population. Although, most cases of the infection can be eradicated with treatment, resulting in no long-term effects, it can lead to more serious conditions, such as gastritis, anemia, obstruction of the stomach, and in some cases, stomach cancer. Can an H. Pylori infection be a precursor to cancer?
H. Pylori Risk Factors
H. Pylori is a gram-negative bacterium that is contagious, and can be spread via saliva. It could be as simple as using the same spoon as a family member carrying the bacteria. It’s also spread through the oral-fecal route. This is why it’s critical to treat all members of a family. If one member is host to the infection, there is a high likelihood that other members may have been infected as well.
Contaminated water and food are one avenue of transmission. Many people get the infection during childhood and are asymptomatic. People, particularly children, living in areas with poor sanitation, lack of hygiene, and inadequate living conditions are at increased risk. Interestingly, some ethnicities are more at risk, including Hispanics and African Americans.
H. Pylori can survive in the stomach for years without symptoms manifesting. It can attack the stomach lining and upper intestine, causing ulcers, and chronic gastritis, and in some cases stomach cancer.
What Are The Symptoms Of H. Pylori?
Here is a list of symptoms associated with H. Pylori. Keep in mind, many people don’t have symptoms:
- Sense of fullness
- Acid reflux and heartburn
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bloating and diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Peptic ulcers
Anemia is another symptom of H. Pylori. This is due to the decrease of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. It’s paramount the stomach be extremely acidic in order to break down the proteins that liberate iron.
If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms, visit your doctor or functional health practitioner. They can provide the testing essential for diagnosis. Abdominal pain that becomes chronic and persistent, difficulty swallowing, and bloody stools and vomit are red flags that should never be ignored.
Learn more about the tea in this short video:
H. Pylori And Reduced Stomach Acid
H. Pylori reduces stomach acid by raising the pH of the stomach, via an enzyme called urease, to ensure its survival. Urease converts urea from the stomach into ammonia and bicarbonate, both of which neutralize stomach acid. This reaction is what enables diagnosis using a breath test.
Low stomach acid leads to all sorts of problems, including decreased digestion, a possible B12 deficiency, anemia, food sensitivities, and leaky gut, which is a foundational factor in many chronic diseases.
The immune system sends out soldiers in response to pathogenic invasion. However, immune molecules, such as T cells and white blood cells can’t attack the bacterium because it can’t reach it. This is because it has become enmeshed deep within the lining of the stomach, another powerful defense mechanism meant to prevent detection and elimination.
Antibiotic resistance also plays a part in the conundrum of eradicating H. Pylori. That’s why at least two antibiotics are used during treatment. Read more below.
How Is It Diagnosed?
The two most common laboratory tests for H. Pylori are urea breath testing and stool antigen testing. Blood tests measuring antibodies, and endoscopic biopsies are also used.
I like breath testing because it’s easy, non-invasive, and accurate. H. Pylori breaks down urea into carbon dioxide, which the stomach absorbs, and can be detected in the breath. One great advantage of this test is it can easily be administered to children.
Stool testing is highly accurate for diagnosis of H. Pylori. It’s more expensive than a breath test, but can effectively identify the bacterium using a stool sample.
Blood testing is useful in detecting antibodies to H. Pylori. Although, great for diagnosis, antibody blood testing is not suggested for confirming whether the infection is gone. This is because antibodies can persist long after eradication.
Endoscopy is another reliable test for diagnosing H. Pylori. It is, however, more invasive, but can also provide valuable information about ulcers and the severity of gastritis. A tube, or endoscope, is inserted in the mouth, viewing the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, or upper part of the small intestine. Biopsies, or small tissue samples of the stomach lining, are taken during the procedure. If one of these tissue samples reacts with urea, a positive diagnosis is given.
Can H. Pylori Cause Cancer?
Why do some people get H. Pylori and others don’t? Like most disease states, the health of the immune system, along with robust gut health, play an enormous role in whether one gets sick or not.
Even with strong immunity, H. Pylori is a tough bacteria to eradicate. This is because it nestles deep within the mucosal lining of the stomach. This is to prevent detection. The bacterium also form biofilms to further protect themselves. Biofilms are self-producing slimy colonies of mucus and minerals that serve as an encasement for pathogens.
There are two types of gastric cancer or cancer of the stomach. The first type is cancer of the upper stomach, called gastric cardia cancer. The second type of stomach cancer is called non-cardia gastric cancer, and is pathology of other areas in the stomach.
Gastritis And Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer deaths worldwide, and is more prevalent in developing countries, such as South America and Asia. H. Pylori infections are a factor in the development of stomach cancer, and specifically non-cardia gastric cancer.
Atopic gastritis, inflammation of the stomach, is associated with H. Pylori, and occurs in the pyloric antrum, the most distal portion of the stomach. When the protective lining of the stomach is degraded by infection digestive juices can irritate sensitive tissues, potentially causing ulcers.
Inflammation is caused by the infection itself, but also by a cytotoxin, called Vac-A that is produced by the bacterium. Atopic gastritis is a risk factor in developing gastric carcinoma, while eliminating the infection decreases risk.
H. Pylori is treated using proton pump inhibitors to lower stomach acid, along with two different antibiotics. Amoxicillin, Metraziazoanole, and Clarithromycin are three of the antibiotics commonly used as part of the triple therapy to treat H. Pylori. Using more than one antibiotic is based on findings that one alone didn’t bring the desired results.
Matula tea has a great success rate in treating H. Pylori, and is so successful that it’s 100% guaranteed in the event that it doesn’t do the trick. Once the infection is gone, it’s imperative to optimize stomach acid is as the acidity will destroy bacterial overgrowth before it can burrow into the stomach lining. Keep in mind, there’s always the possibility of becoming reinfected so get tested to make sure the infection is gone.
Keep your immune system humming at full capacity by leading a healthy lifestyle. This will always be your best defense against pathogenic invaders. Proper hand-washing methods are also vital in reducing your risk
Other recommendations include quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, moderating caffeine, managing stress, and using NSAIDs judiciously. PPIs or proton pump inhibitors should not be used more than a couple of weeks. They decrease stomach acid, setting you up for future infections.
[Read More: Does Manuka Honey Kill MRSA?]
Personal Life Experience
Watch one woman’s journey with H. Pylori and stomach cancer. Unfortunately, she has since passed away.
The over arching message is to get tested if you have any of the symptoms of H. Pylori. You don’t want to mess around with it, because it may increase your chances of contracting cancer of the stomach.
H. Pylori is a bacterial infection many people are unaware they have. Some may have been infected for years, even from childhood. Common ways it is diagnosed is through breath and stool testing. Optimizing your stomach acid and immune function is your best defense against H. Pylori. Detection is essential because this common infection can wreak havoc on your digestive system, and in some cases lead to stomach cancer.
Do you suspect you may have H. Pylori? Let me know in the comments:)