Go to contents

Cancer Signal

Posted January. 22, 2007 07:03,   


A study suggests that men who have many siblings are more prone to gastric cancer than men who don’t. Dr. Martin J. Blazer, the chair of the Department of Medicine and professor of microbiology in New York University School of Medicine, said on January 21 in a paper published in the latest issue of the medical journal “Public Library of Science-Medicine” that among men infected with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), those who have more than six siblings are 1.7-2.2 times more likely to develop gastric cancer than people with siblings between one and three persons, and the youngest are most at risk.

Dr. Blazer conducted a study of 7,429 Japanese American men living in Hawaii for 28 years to examine the risk of gastric cancer. His study showed that for those carrying H. pylori and having more than six siblings, the risk of developing gastric cancer was 1.2 times higher than those with four or five siblings, 1.7 times higher than those with between one and three siblings.

For those with virulent strains of H. pylori, the risk of gastric cancer was 1.2 times as high among people with more than six siblings than those with four or five siblings, and 2.2 times as high than those with siblings between one and three persons.

H. pylori is a bacterium that causes gastric cancer and gastric ulcers. It can thrive in the highly acidic environment of the stomach. H. pylori is a widely known bacterium. It is estimated that half of the world population and 60 percent of Koreans are infected with this bacterium.

Not all people with H. pylori develop diseases, but those with a gastric ulcer, a duodenal ulcer, or with lymphadenoma caused by the bacterium need treatment. Virulent strains of H. pylori that can induce a gastric ulcer or inflammation are known to be most common in Korea among countries in the world.

Dr. Blazer said that the younger one is more likely to be infected with H. pylori from their siblings at a young age when their immune system is not fully developed. Experts say this study is significant to Koreans given the way the bacterium is infected in the East is no different from the way in the West.

H. pylori infection can occur by touching the vomit of those with the bacterium. People who happen to touch such vomit are required to wash hands not to get infected. In particular, one should be careful when they are around those who are drunk and throwing up since the bacterium can be transmitted by an oral route. Choi Myong-kyu, a professor of Kangnam St. Mary’s Hospital, said, “One week or two of treatment with antibiotics, drugs to protect a mucous membrane, or an antacid is require to eradicate the bacterium. Food products with a lactic acid bacterium that bill themselves as effective to a get rid of H. pylori may be good for stomach, but they do not eradicate or prevent the infection.”