September 22, 2016

H. pylori and anemia – new evidence

The bacterium Helicobacter pylori has been linked to anemia and may be contributing to the incidence and severity of anemia worldwide.

About half the people on earth are colonized with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Most have no symptoms, although the presence of the bacterium in the stomach lining is a strong risk factor for peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer.

Now Timothy L. Cover, M.D., and colleagues have found evidence, in a Mongolian gerbil model, that H. pylori also can cause iron deficiency anemia (IDA), presumably from increased gastric ulceration and resulting blood loss.

In addition, H. pylori-infected animals fed a diet with high salt content and low iron content had a higher incidence and increased severity of IDA compared to those fed a regular diet, the researchers reported this month in the journal Infection and Immunity.

While previous investigations have not consistently detected an association between anemia and H. pylori infection, the current study suggests that, especially under certain dietary conditions, “this bacterium could potentially have a substantial impact on the incidence and severity of anemia worldwide,” the researchers concluded.

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