Objectives: As part of a cross-sectional study on cholelithiasis, 1533 out of 1840 residents in Loiano/Monghidoro, a rural area in Northern Italy (792 men, 741 women, age range 28-80 years), agreed to be further evaluated in relation to their Helicobacter pylori status.
Methods: Each participant performed a 13C-urea breath test (13C-UBT) and provided information on sociodemographic, lifestyle and clinical characteristics.
Results: The 13C-UBT was positive in 1041 subjects (67.9%; men: 69%; women: 67%) and was positively associated with increasing age (P < 0.001), alcohol consumption (P < 0.01), a higher number of siblings (P < 0.001) and a personal history of peptic ulcer (P < 0.01), but inversely with a nonmanual occupation (P < 0.001). Overall, H. pylori infection was unrelated to smoking, house pets, and a family history of gastroduodenal diseases. The prevalence of H. pylori infection was 72% in subjects reporting one or more dyspeptic symptoms and 65% among asymptomatic participants (P < 0.001); a multivariate analysis showed that only epigastric pain was significantly, although weakly, associated with 13C-UBT positivity.
Conclusions: This large population-based study showed a prevalence of H. pylori infection higher than that reported by serologic surveys in urban areas. Current H. pylori infection was strongly associated with indicators of lower socioeconomic status, alcohol consumption and increasing age. A role of H. pylori infection in determining epigastric pain was suggested.