High dietary intake of antioxidant vitamins decreases the risk of gastric (stomach) cancer, even in people with an active Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, according to a recent report from researchers in South Korea.1
The H. pylori bacteria, one of the most common pathogens afflicting humans, is often associated with gastric cancer.2 Additionally, H. pylori can cause chronic active gastritis and peptic ulcer.2 Other risk factors for gastric cancer include high dietary salt intake, cigarette smoking, and family history of the disease.
The study enrolled 136 subjects with histologic evidence of gastric cancer and 136 healthy controls. The subjects completed a retrospective food-frequency questionnaire that covered a 12-month period. Using a multivariate model, the study authors assessed the effects of dietary factors and H. pylori infection on gastric cancer risk.
High dietary intake of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as beta-carotene, was associated with a decreased risk of gastric cancer. In individuals with H. pylori infection, high dietary intake of vitamins C and E was associated with protection against gastric cancer. Specifically, subjects in the highest tertiles of vitamin C and E intake had 90% and 84% reduced risks of gastric cancer, respectively. By contrast, participants in the lowest tertile of combined vitamin C and E intake had a greater than fourfold increased risk of gastric cancer.1
The authors concluded that high antioxidant intake may protect against gastric cancer. The antimicrobial eradication of H. pylori, combined with supplemental use of vitamins C and E, may thus provide a two-pronged strategy for preventing gastric cancer.
1. Kim HJ, Kim MK, Chang WK, Choi HS, Choi BY, Lee SS. Effect of nutrient intake and Helicobacter pylori infection on gastric cancer in Korea: a case-control study. Nutr Cancer. 2005;52(2):138-46.
2. Penta R, De Falco M, Iaquinto G, De Luca A. Helicobacter pylori and gastric epithelial cells: from gastritis to cancer. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Sep;24(3):337-45.