Objective: Gastric colonisation with the Helicobacter pylori bacterium is a proposed protective factor against oesophageal adenocarcinoma, but its point of action is unknown. Its associations with Barrett’s oesophagus, a metaplastic change that is a probable early event in the carcinogenesis of oesophageal adenocarcinoma, were evaluated
Methods: A case–control study was carried out in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California population, a large health services delivery organisation. Persons with a new Barrett’s oesophagus diagnosis (cases) were matched to subjects with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) without Barrett’s oesophagus and to population controls. Subjects completed direct in-person interviews and antibody testing for H pylori and its CagA (cytotoxin-associated gene product A) protein.
Results: Serological data were available on 318 Barrett’s oesophagus cases, 312 GORD patients and 299 population controls. Patients with Barrett’s oesophagus were substantially less likely to have antibodies for H pylori (OR = 0.42, 95% CI 0.26 to 0.70) than population controls; this inverse association was stronger among those with lower body mass indexes (BMIs <25, OR = 0.03, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.20) and those with CagA+ strains (OR = 0.08, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.35). The associations were diminished after adjustment for GORD symptoms. The H pylori status was not an independent risk factor for Barrett’s oesophagus compared with the GORD controls.
Conclusions: Helicobacter pylori infection and CagA+ status were inversely associated with a new diagnosis of Barrett’s oesophagus. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that H pylori colonisation protects against Barrett’s oesophagus and that the association may be at least partially mediated through GORD.
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Funding:United States National Institutes of Health RO1 DK63616 and K08 DK02697. The study sponsor reviewed the protocol, but did not participate in the collection, analysis or interpretation of the data.
Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: The study and analyses were approved by the institutional review board.
Patient consent: All subjects provided written informed consent.
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