Stomach Bacteria Linked to Gastric Cancer

Lauren Farabough

Dr. FischbachMost people in the world have never heard of Helicobacter pylori, but more than two-thirds of people worldwide have this type of bacterium in their stomachs. Many people may also not be aware of the link between this bacteria and the risk for gastric cancer. Gastric cancer, or stomach cancer, will have more than 20,000 new cases in the U.S. in 2013 according to the National Cancer Institute.

Lori Fischbach, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the UAMS College of Public Health, is leading research on H. pylori, comparing the effectiveness of treatments, how it relates to cancer epidemiology and how this has contributed to guiding treatment recommendations worldwide.

Her analysis examining the effectiveness of H. pylori treatments in 44 countries and 618 treatment arms was featured in the Systematic Review themed issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology. Her meta-analyses have also received attention at international meetings since it affects so many worldwide.

Fischbach’s research has included three studies in Colombia, one along the border of the United States and Mexico and analyses using data throughout the world. She has chaired sessions on H. pylori treatments at the largest gastroenterology conference in the world, Digestive Disease Week. She also chaired the committee to review abstracts on H. pylori diagnosis, treatment and antimicrobial resistance.

While the burden of H. pylori is greater in the developing world, most treatments have been tested primarily in developed countries. Fischbach said that treatments for H pylori haven’t been shown to be effective in developing countries where the infection affects the vast majority of the population. One of her upcoming projects is an analysis of treatments for H. pylori in these developing countries.