The bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) increases the risk of colorectal polyps in blacks and may also increase their risk of colon cancer, according to findings presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 101st Annual Meeting 2010.
Presence of H. pylori is often asymptomatic, but Dr. Duane T. Smoot, chief of the gastrointestinal division at Howard University, Washington, D.C., suggested that there is more at stake than bacterial related illnesses.
"Not everyone gets sick from H. pylori infection and there is a legitimate concern about overusing antibiotics to treat it," said Smoot. "However, the majority of the time these polyps will become cancerous if not removed, so we need to screen for the bacteria and treat it as a possible cancer prevention strategy."
The link between H. pylori and cancer has been suggested before for other organ sites and ethnic groups, but the findings have been a subject of debate.
Smoot and colleagues observed 1,262 black participants who underwent bidirectional gastrointestinal endoscopy on the day they were enrolled. They assessed H. pylori status using immunohistochemistry on gastric specimens.
Results showed that colorectal polyps were 50 percent more prevalent in patients infected with H. pylori (43 percent) than in patients who did not have H. pylori (34 percent).
Furthermore, there was a trend toward larger polyp size in infected patients. H. pylori status did not affect the histopathology or location of the polyps.