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Unveiling the Link: How H. Pylori Treatment Could Combat Colorectal Cancer

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedMay 29, 2024

Helicobacter pylori, the most common bacterial infection globally and a known carcinogen for gastric cancer may have ties to colorectal cancer (CRC), as presented in a large-scale study of U.S. Veterans.

Key Findings:

  • Among 812,736 individuals tested for H. pylori, those who tested positive were associated with higher CRC incidence and mortality.
  • Treatment for H. pylori infection among positive individuals was associated with lower CRC incidence and mortality, with 0.23%-0.35% absolute risk reduction over 15 years.
  • Untreated individuals showed a 23% higher risk for incident CRC and a 40% higher risk for fatal CRC compared with those who received treatment.

These results offer significant insights into the impact of H. pylori infection and subsequent treatment on CRC, underscoring the importance of testing and treating H. pylori as potential preventative measures against CRC.

Study Design and Population:

A retrospective cohort analysis within the Veterans Health Administration included adults tested for H. pylori between 1999 and 2018. The study focused on the associations between H. pylori test results (positive/negative) and treatment status among positive cases, and the primary outcomes were CRC incidence and mortality.

Implications and Conclusions:

The study's findings suggest that H. pylori infection might contribute to an increased risk of CRC, and that treatment for the infection may reduce this risk. These conclusions could reshape preventative strategies against CRC, one of the leading causes of cancer deaths. While further research is required to solidify the connection, the study authors highlight the benefits of testing and treating H. pylori not only for gastric cancer prevention but also for CRC.

Additional Information:

The full article detailing the study's methods and results can be accessed online at the Journal of Clinical Oncology's website, DOI, offering comprehensive evidence for the relationship between H. pylori infection, treatment, and colorectal cancer risks.

This summary was built with the help of Buoy Health.


Shah, S. C., Camargo, M. C., Lamm, M., Bustamante, R., Roumie, C. L., Wilson, O., ... & Demb, J. (2024). Impact of Helicobacter pylori Infection and Treatment on Colorectal Cancer in a Large, Nationwide Cohort. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 00(00), 1-9.