Heavy drinking tied to higher gastric cancer risk in H. pylori-free individuals

Reuters Health Information: Heavy drinking tied to higher gastric cancer risk in H. pylori-free individuals

Heavy drinking tied to higher gastric cancer risk in H. pylori-free individuals

Last Updated: 2015-10-27

By Reuters Staff

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Heavy and binge drinking is a key risk factor for gastric cancer among people who are not infected with Helicobacter pylori, new findings show.

Dr. Sue K. Park of Seoul National University College of Medicine in Korea and colleagues found that H. pylori-free heavy drinkers and binge drinkers were each at more than triple the risk of gastric cancer compared with non-drinkers. But there was no significant association between alcohol consumption pattern and the disease in people who did carry the bacterium.

H. pylori has been called the "most important aetiological factor for the development of non-cardia gastric cancer," Dr. Park and her team note in the British Journal of Cancer, online September 17. In areas where H. pylori is highly prevalent, however, the rate of infection is similar in people with and without gastric cancer. While some studies have found alcohol consumption is also a risk factor for gastric cancer, they add, the association is inconsistent.

Korea has the highest incidence of gastric cancer in the world, the researchers state, while 60% of the population carries H. pylori. To investigate how H. pylori infection may influence the link between drinking and gastric cancer, the team looked at data from the Korean Multi-Center Cancer Cohort. Their analysis included 949 individuals with H. pylori infection data available, including 266 gastric cancer cases.

Within the total 18,863-patient cohort, heavy drinking (seven times a week or more) and drinking for a decade or more were both associated with a 50% increased risk of gastric cancer.

Among H. pylori-negative individuals, heavy drinkers were at 3.48-fold higher risk of gastric cancer than non-drinkers, while binge drinkers (those who consumed at least 55 grams of alcohol in a single sitting) had a 3.27-fold higher gastric cancer risk. However, the researchers found no association between alcohol consumption patterns and gastric cancer risk in those who tested positive for H. pylori.

"The associations between heavy or binge drinking and gastric cancer risk in the non-infection groups were not statistically heterogeneous, regardless of common or highly pathogenic H. pylori, classified by CagA or VacA," Dr. Park and colleagues write. "This association may be only conditioned by H. pylori non-infection. On the contrary, our finding of non-association in H. pylori-infected group may be due to any antimicrobial effect of H. pylori on high-dose alcohol-drinking condition."

They conclude: "Such results suggest that abstention from alcohol can lower the risk of gastric cancer, especially among subjects who are not affected by H. pylori."

Dr. Park did not respond to an interview request by press time.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1Wf7NcU

Br J Cancer 2015.

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