Helicobacter pylori prevalence and circulating micronutrient levels in a low-income United States population

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Jun;4(6):871-8. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0398. Epub 2011 Mar 24.


High prevalence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), the leading cause of gastric cancer, and low levels of micronutrients have been observed in many developing countries, and the question remains as to the whether an association between the 2 exists. The present study seeks to further our understanding of this potential connection in the Southern Community Cohort Study, representing a low-income population in the United States. Blood levels of antibodies to H. pylori proteins were assessed by multiplex serology for a sample of 310 African American and white participants, ages 40 to 79 years. Blood collected at baseline was also assayed for levels of carotenoids, tocopherols, retinol, and folate. Multivariate linear regression was used to calculate least-squares mean micronutrient levels within groups defined by H. pylori status. The mean serum levels of all micronutrients assayed were lower among H. pylori + individuals than H. pylori - individuals, significantly for β-carotene, folate, and retinol (decreases of 27.6%, 18.6%, and 9.7%, respectively). Individuals who were seropositive to the virulent CagA+ H. pylori strains had even lower mean levels of micronutrients, particularly β-carotene, folate, total carotenoids, and retinol (decreases of 38.9%, 19.1%, 17.0%, and 11.7%, respectively, compared with H. pylori - individuals). However, dietary micronutrient levels as derived from a food frequency questionnaire did not vary between groups defined by H. pylori status. These results provide support for the hypothesis that H. pylori infection impairs nutrient absorption and suggest a need for future studies to explore the role of H. pylori infection on nutrition and gastric cancer risk in this high-risk population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Helicobacter Infections / blood
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications*
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology*
  • Helicobacter pylori / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Stomach Neoplasms / blood
  • Stomach Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / etiology*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Micronutrients