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Smoking Increases Stomach Cancer Risk in People With Ulcers
By Jeremy Appleton, ND

Healthnotes Newswire —Smoking more than a pack of cigarettes per day is linked to a four-fold increase in the risk of a pre-cancerous stomach condition in people with stomach ulcers, according to a study published in this month’s edition of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.1

Participants in the study all had symptomatic stomach ulcers, with confirmed presence of the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylor (H. pylori). Those who smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day had four times the risk of developing intestinal metaplasia (IM), a sequential step in the progression from stomach ulcer to stomach cancer.

Stomach ulcers are thought to be caused by infection with H. pylori. What scientists do not understand, however, is the underlying factors causing progression from H. pylori infection and ulcer to stomach cancer. Less than half of H. pylori–positive people go on to develop IM.

While certain limitations in the design of this new study make a direct cause-and-effect relationship between smoking and stomach cancer difficult, the results appear to provide yet another reason to quit smoking. Smokers of less than 20 cigarettes per day also had an increased risk of IM, as did ex-smokers. But these risks were far less pronounced than those seen among the “pack-a-day” or more smokers.

References
1. Russo A, Maconi P, Spinelli G, et al. Effect of lifestyle, smoking, and diet on development of intestinal metaplasia in H. pylori–positive subjects. Am J Gastroenterol 2001:96:1402–8.

Jeremy Appleton, ND, is a licensed naturopathic physician, writer, and educator in the field of evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. Dr. Appleton is Chair of Nutrition at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and Senior Science Editor at Healthnotes.




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