Dietary modifications may not benefit cancer patients

adults. H. pylori causes gastric cancer.

Wei-Cheng You, M.D., of the Beijing Institute for Cancer Research, Mitchell Gail, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues tested 3,365 Chinese adults ages 35-64 in Linqu County. Beginning in 1995, the subjects were randomly assigned to receive various combinations of three interventions--one-time treatment with antibiotics for H. pylori; long-term vitamin E, C, and selenium supplements; or long-term garlic supplements--or a placebo. The researchers reassessed the patients in 1999 and 2003.

The authors found that one-time use of the antibiotics amoxicillin and omeprazole to treat H. pylori infection reduced the severity and progression of precancerous gastric lesions. The data also suggested, but did not prove, that antibiotic treatment reduced gastric cancer incidence. Long-term vitamin and garlic supplementation had no effect on the incidence of gastric cancer or progression of precancerous lesions.

The authors write, " H. pylori treatment reduces the prevalence of precancerous gastric lesions and may reduce gastric cancer incidence [...] Long-term vitamin or garlic supplementation had no beneficial effects."

In an accompanying editorial examining both studies, John A. Baron, M.D., of Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., discusses reasons the two studies may have come to negative conclusions and suggests changes that could have been made to the study designs. He writes, "Together the two articles in this issue of the Journal well illustrate the contemporary status of chemoprevention: hard to summarize, many negative findings, but some nuggets of progress."


Contact: Ariel Whitworth
Journal of the National Cancer Institute

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