Helicobacter pylori bacteria is found to be highly linked to the causes of gastric cancer, as first confirmed by Dr. Naomi Uemura

In scientific circles, it is well known these days that the Helicobacter pylori bacteria cause chronic gastritis, gastric ulcer, gastric cancer and other related illnesses. It was Naomi Uemura, Senior Doctor of the Gastroenterology Department at Kure Kyosai Hospital, who was the first to establish a link between the bacteria and gastric cancer.

The Helicobacter pylori bacterium was discovered by Robin Warren and Barry Marshall in Australia in 1983. In order to prove that Helicobacter pylori cause chronic gastritis or gastric ulcer, Dr. Marshall himself drank cultured Helicobacter pylori, which led him to contract acute gastritis. This finding won Warren and Marshall the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005.

IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), a part of the World Health Organization, recognized Helicobacter pylori as a Group 1 carcinogen (“definite carcinogen”) by conducting an epidemiological survey in 1994. Moreover, in 1998 doctors in Japan reported that gastric cancer appeared in Meriones unguiculatus infected with Helicobacter pylori 1.5 years earlier, making the bacteria and gastric cancer link stronger.

Dr. Uemura and his colleagues examined a group of 1,526 patients to see if they were infected by Helicobacter pylori. These patients were given endoscopy exams from 1990 to 1993 due to having gastric ulcers and so on. In the group, 280 patients were not infected, while 1,246 were. Dr. Uemura and his team conducted a follow-up survey on these patients for seven or eight years. Thirty-six (2.9%) of the 1,246 Helicobacter pylori infected patients were found to have gastric cancer, while none of the 280 patients not infected by Helicobacter pylori had gastric cancer. In 2001 they published the results in an article in the American medicine magazine, “The New England Journal of Medicine”, and received international praise.

Another significant finding from Uemura’s work is that 253 test subjects from the group that was infected by Helicobacter pylori were treated and then cleared of the bacteria. These patients did not contract gastric cancer for the next 4 to 8 years. This shows that gastric cancer can be prevented by treating for Helicobacter pylori. Critical studies are now being advanced because of this discovery.

Not all gastric cancers are developed by Helicobacter pylori. Patients who are not infected with Helicobacter pylori rarely get gastric cancers. Roughly 99% of gastric cancers are related to Helicobacter pylori.