Sunday, January 15, 2006


Stomach bacteria linked to iron deficiency

Reuters Health

Thursday, January 12, 2006

By Anthony J. Brown, MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Helicobacter pylori infection, which affects about one third of adults in the US, is associated with an increased risk of iron deficiency and related anemia, according to the results of a new study.

Moreover, this relationship holds true even in the absence of peptic ulcer disease, which can cause iron-deficiency anemia through hemorrhage, the researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

"For the first time in a national sample of the US population, we found an apparent link between H. pylori infection and iron deficiency" and iron-deficiency anemia, lead author Dr. Victor M. Cardenas, from the University of Texas at Houston, told Reuters Health.

H. pylori infection has previously been found to cause stomach inflammation and most ulcers. The bacterium also increases the risk of stomach cancer.

The researchers identified this new relationship based on an analysis of data from the current National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2000). Data on 7,462 subjects who were at least three years of age were included in the analysis.

The presence of H. pylori infection raised the risk of iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia by 1.4- and 2.6-fold, respectively. H. pylori infection was also tied to other types of anemia, but to a much lesser extent.

How might H. pylori infection promote iron deficiency short of causing a bleeding ulcer? "The rapid turnover of H. pylori, which seems to sequester iron, is one possible mechanism," Cardenas said.

He added that his group is now seeking funding for a randomized trial to see if eradication of H. pylori can improve iron deficiency in children.

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, January 15, 2006.

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