Background: Carriers of Helicobacter pylori are believed to have a three- to six-fold increased risk of developing gastric cancer. We have recently conducted a simultaneous cross-sectional population study on the prevalence of H. pylori infection in a cohort of asymptomatic adult volunteers in two contrasting gastric cancer risk regions of South China, Hong Kong and Changle of Fujian. Their mean annual gastric cancer mortality has been approximately 7.5 and 75/100 000 population, respectively, since the beginning of the last decade. The aim of this study was to evaluate if H. pylori prevalence bears any relationship to gastric cancer mortality rates in these two southern regions of China.
Methods: Sera were obtained from 397 volunteers in Hong Kong. They were tested for anti-H.pylori immunoglobulin (Ig) G antibody by using a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit. Volunteers of Changle (1456) had upper endoscopy examination and were also tested for anti-H. pylori IgG antibody by the same ELISA method.
Results: The overall H. pylori infection prevalence was significantly higher in Changle (80.4%) than in Hong Kong (58.4%; P< 0.01). The high prevalence is associated with more atrophic gastritis. The overall risk of gastric cancer in people of Changle is approximately five-fold that of Hong Kong (adjusted odds ratio 4.9, 95% CI 2.5-9.8).
Conclusions: It is concluded that the prevalence of H. pylori infection rates bear a direct relationship to gastric cancer mortality rates in these two southern regions of China. Thus, H. pylori most likely plays a significant aetiopathogenetic role in gastric carcinogenesis in subjects living in Changle.