Ironing out the link between H. pylori infection and gastric cancer
H. pylori frequently causes gastric ulcers and is also one of the greatest risk factors for gastric cancer. H. pylori infection is also associated with another gastric cancer risk factor, iron deficiency.
In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers led by Richard Peek at Vanderbilt University investigated the influence of iron on H. pylori-induced gastric cancer. Peek and colleagues found that low iron accelerated the development of H. pylori-associated cancerous lesions in gerbils.
Further, H. pylori strains isolated from a human population at high risk for gastric cancer were more virulent and produced greater inflammation if they came from patients with low iron levels.
In an accompanying article, El-Omar Emad of Aberdeen University discusses how iron levels could be used to identify patients that are at a higher risk for gastric cancer after H. pylori infection.
Iron deficiency and H. pylori-induced gastric cancer: too little, too bad, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2012.