Background & aims: A positive family history is associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer. We compared the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection, a known risk factor for stomach cancer, between subjects with and without parental history of stomach cancer to evaluate a potential role of H. pylori infection in familial aggregation of stomach cancer.
Methods: A total of 1351 men and women aged 30-74 years who participated in the German Health and Nutrition Survey conducted in the western part of Germany in 1987-1988 were included in the study. Detailed information on sociodemographic factors, nutritional factors, and parental history of cancer was obtained by standardized interviews. Serum samples were analyzed for immunoglobulin G antibodies against H. pylori by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: The prevalence of H. pylori infection was much higher (69%) among subjects with a parental history of stomach cancer than among other subjects (44%). This association persisted after control for potential confounders by multiple logistic regression (adjusted odds ratio, 2.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-5.9), and was particularly strong among subjects below age 55 (adjusted odds ratio, 5.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.6-16.1).
Conclusions: These results suggest that familial aggregation of stomach cancer may be explained at least partly by familial clustering of H. pylori infection.