Why Stomach Cancer is Declining in the US

Gastric cancers declining due to H pylori and smoking trends

(RxWiki News) Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria that’s responsible for stomach problems such as ulcers and sometimes cancer. The good news, though, is this bug is going away and so are cases of stomach cancer.

A type of stomach cancer called intestinal-type noncardia gastric adenocarcinoma (NCGA) is on a steep decline in the US, according to a recent review.

The researchers said a major reason for this 60 percent decline in NCGA cases among men has to do with trends relating to H. pylori and smoking.

"Be good to your stomach – quit smoking."

Jennifer M. Yeh, MD, of the Center for Health Decision Science at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues analyzed three decades worth of data.

While gastric cancer is on the decline in the US, it remains the second leading cause of cancer-related death around the world. Some 700,000 people don’t outlive stomach cancer every year.

H. pylori infection is uncommon in this country, largely because of food refrigeration and clean water supplies.

Using a population-based simulation model, the researchers examined risk factor data from national databases, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and cancer data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program.

Intestinal-type NCGA cases in men declined by an estimated 60 percent in the years 1978 to 2008. The scientists credited trends in H. Pylori and smoking for 47 percent of this decline.

Using this same model, the scientists predicted that this type of gastric cancer would drop another 47 percent between 2008 and 2040.

During this time, trends in the bacteria and smoking will account for more than 81 percent of the decline.

“In conclusion, trends in modifiable risk factors explain a significant proportion of the decline of intestinal-type NCGA incidence in the US, and will contribute to future decline," the authors wrote.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,600 adult Americans will be diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2013, and about 11,000 will die from the disease.

This study was published May 21 in PLOS Medicine. The National Cancer Institute funded the research, and no conflicts of interest were disclosed.

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Review Date: 
May 21, 2013