An investigation of 102 men comprising alcoholics, patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia, and healthy controls is reported. It demonstrates that alcohol is a cause of chronic gastritis and the severity of the mucosal lesion is directly related to the duration of excess drinking. Contrary to popular belief, chronic gastritis does not give rise to symptoms. The effect of alcohol on the gastric mucosa is a direct one and is not mediated by malnutrition, hepatic damage, intestinal malabsorption, anaemia, ascorbic acid deficiency, or any disturbance in immune tolerance.
The natural history of chronic gastritis is described, involving an initial hypertrophy and hyperfunction of the gastric mucosa, followed by atrophy and hypofunction.
Cigarette smoking is confirmed as another cause of chronic gastritis. The non-ulcer dyspepsia syndrome is unrelated to chronic gastritis.
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