Helicobacter pylori and colorectal neoplasia: Is there a causal link?

World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Jan 14;22(2):649-58. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i2.649.


Ever since Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) was recognized as an infectious cause of gastric cancer, there has been increasing interest in examining its potential role in colorectal carcinogenesis. Data from case-control and cross-sectional studies, mostly relying on hospital-based samples, and several meta-analyses have shown a positive statistical relationship between H. pylori infection and colorectal neoplasia. However, the possibility exists that the results have been influenced by bias, including the improper selection of patients and disparities with respect to potential confounders. While the evidence falls short of a definitive causal link, it appears that infection with H. pylori/H. pylori-related gastritis is associated with an increased, although modest, risk of colorectal adenoma and cancer. The pathogenic mechanisms responsible for this association remain uncertain. H. pylori has been detected in colorectal malignant tissues; however, the possibility that H. pylori is a direct activator of colonic carcinogenesis remains purely hypothetical. On the other hand, experimental data have indicated a series of potential oncogenic interactions between these bacteria and colorectal mucosa, including induction and perpetuation of inflammatory responses, alteration of gut microflora and release of toxins and/or hormonal mediators, such as gastrin, which may contribute to tumor formation.

Keywords: Adenoma; Colorectal cancer; Gastrin; Helicobacter pylori; Polyp.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Gastritis / diagnosis
  • Gastritis / microbiology*
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications
  • Helicobacter Infections / diagnosis
  • Helicobacter Infections / microbiology*
  • Helicobacter pylori / genetics
  • Helicobacter pylori / pathogenicity*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Oncogenes
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis
  • Precancerous Conditions / genetics
  • Precancerous Conditions / microbiology*
  • Risk Factors