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Ulcer Therapy, Vitamins May Team Up to Prevent Stomach Cancer

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The study, which is the first of several investigating the link between the H. pylori bug and stomach cancer, "provides important leads" for researchers trying to come up with ways to prevent cancer, according to William J. Blot, PhD.

"These results are encouraging, but they're not the last word," says Blot, director of the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Md. "We need more information before making strong recommendations."

Blot also says one cannot rule out the possibility that giving vitamins alone may be as effective as the anti-ulcer therapy since people who got only vitamins did have reductions in stomach abnormalities.

Several similar studies are ongoing, including a large study in China that is expected to have results soon. In addition to anti-ulcer medications and vitamins, that trial is also testing the possibility that garlic may help reduce some of the stomach abnormalities or prevent them from worsening. Correa says the results of that trial and others will help experts determine who should be treated with the prevention strategies and which of the strategies work best.

He says the most likely candidates are people with a family history of stomach cancer and those who live in areas where poor diet is common. But, Correa says the latter group could include a lot of people. In Colombia, where his study was conducted, 90% of people are infected with H. pylori -- 50% of them by age two.

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