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Helicobacter pylori antibodies and gastric cancer in Iceland – The decline in IgG antibody level is a risk factor

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H. pylori infection is considered a causal agent of duodenal ulcer and a significant risk factor for gastric cancer. Retrospective cohort studies have demonstrated a significant association between presence of antibody to H. pylori and gastric cancer when using samples obtained years before the diagnosis but not at the time of diagnosis. The present study investigates, in a population-based cohort, whether a decline occurs in H. pylori antibody levels before the diagnosis of stomach cancer. Repeat samples (2 to 5) were available from 23 persons with gastric cancer taken up to 20 years before the diagnosis and 128 control subjects matched for gender, age, time and number of repeat samples. The odds ratio of developing stomach cancer was 1.16 (95% CI 1.05–1.28) for those showing decline in antibody levels of 1 relative antibody activity unit per year versus those with constant or rising levels. We conclude that this decline in antibody levels in cases, and not in controls, supports an active role of H. pylori in the pathogenesis of gastric cancer by causing atrophic gastritis, and provides a better risk assessment for gastric cancer compared to single measurements.

Keywords: H. pylori; H. pylori antibody; gastric cancer; loss of H. pylori antibody

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Icelandic Cancer Registry 2: Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland, 3: Department of Microbiology, University of Iceland, 4: Molecular and Cell Biology Research Laboratory, Icelandic Cancer Society, 5: Heart Preventive Clinic, Reykjavik, Iceland

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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