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In a long-term study, Chinese researchers find that conventional options may not be the only effective treatment for and prevention of gastric cancer. Eradicating Helicobacter pylori -- a known risk factor for this form of cancer -- as well as supplementing with vitamins and garlic emerged as sound therapies to protect against the disease
The randomized Shandong Intervention Trial found a significant reduction in gastric cancer incidence and death from Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) treatment and vitamin and garlic supplementation, as the group reported in the British Medical Journal.[i]
H. pylori is believed to be a primary cause of gastric cancer, although smoking, nitrates and nitrites found in cured meat, regular aspirin use as well as a lack of vegetables and fruits in your diet are also known contributors to the multifactorial condition.[ii]
H. Pylori Treatment, Vitamins Cut Gastric Cancer Risk
To study the effects of the three interventions, investigators led by Dr. Kai-Feng Pan of Peking University Cancer Hospital and Institute conducted a randomized trial involving 3,365 subjects in China, specifically those living in a rural region at high risk for gastric cancer.
Nutritional deficiencies were common in the area. Participants were also 35 to 64 years old and comprised 2,258 who were infected with H. pylori, a known risk factor for gastric cancer.[iii] The subjects were assigned to standard amoxicillin/omeprazole treatment, vitamin intake, garlic supplementation or placebo treatment.[iv]
The vitamin supplements included 250 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, 100 international units (IU) of vitamin E and 37.5 microgram (μg) of selenium, taken twice daily for seven years. The garlic group received two capsules of 200 mg garlic extract along with 1 mg garlic oil twice every day.
Results at 22 years of follow-up demonstrated that H. pylori treatment reduced gastric cancer incidence and mortality with an odds ratio of 0.48, and selenium, vitamin E and vitamin C did the same at an odds ratio of 0.64. While garlic supplementation did not reduce incidence, it slashed mortality from the disease at an adjusted hazard ratio of 0.66.
Natural Strategies for Gastric Cancer Prevention
"These findings suggest many potential strategies for gastric cancer prevention," wrote the researchers,[v] who warned that health campaigns promoting these strategies need to be built upon large-scale intervention trials to determine their benefits as well as risks. Previous studies highlighted the potential benefits of vitamin C-rich citrus fruits in decreasing the risk of esophageal and gastric cancers.[vi],[vii]
A systematic review and meta-analysis also confirmed that garlic may be protective against H. pylori and the development of gastric cancer,[viii] which remains one of the deadliest cancers worldwide, especially among older males, with an estimated 783,000 deaths in 2018.[ix]
Consuming kimchi, one of the most popular fermented foods in the world, has also been cited as a potent stomach cancer prevention technique. This food is made from Chinese cabbage, which alone contains sulforaphane, one of the most powerful anti-cancer and H. pylori-fighting compounds around.
Even adhering to the Mediterranean diet was seen to positively affect gastric cancer, with a case-control study conducted from 2003 to 2015 showing a beneficial role of high vegetable, legume and fish intake -- along with low alcohol and meat consumption --- in the development of the cancer.[xi]
You can find more compelling studies on gastric cancer, as well as 190 natural substances that may help prevent it, on the GreenMedInfo.com database.
[i] Li WQ et al "Effects of Helicobacter pylori treatment and vitamin and garlic supplementation on gastric cancer incidence and mortality: follow-up of a randomized intervention trial" BMJ. 2019 Sep 11;366:l5016. doi: 10.1136/bmj.l5016.
[ii] "Chapter 1.1". World Cancer Report 2014. World Health Organization. 2014. ISBN 9283204298.
[iv] Li WQ et al "Effects of Helicobacter pylori treatment and vitamin and garlic supplementation on gastric cancer incidence and mortality: follow-up of a randomized intervention trial" BMJ. 2019 Sep 11;366:l5016. doi: 10.1136/bmj.l5016.
[v] Li WQ et al "Effects of Helicobacter pylori treatment and vitamin and garlic supplementation on gastric cancer incidence and mortality: follow-up of a randomized intervention trial" BMJ. 2019 Sep 11;366:l5016. doi: 10.1136/bmj.l5016.
[vi] Snieguole Vingeliene et al "An update of the WCRF/AICR systematic literature review on esophageal and gastric cancers and citrus fruits intake" Cancer Causes Control. 2016 Jul ;27(7):837-51. Epub 2016 May 6
[vii] Jong-Myon Bae et al "Dietary intakes of citrus fruit and risk of gastric cancer incidence: an adaptive meta-analysis of cohort studies" Epidemiol Health. 2016 Jul 25. Epub 2016 Jul 25.
[viii] Ziyu Li et al "The association of garlic with Helicobacter pylori infection and gastric cancer risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis" Helicobacter. 2018 Oct ;23(5):e12532. Epub 2018 Aug 28.
[ix] Prashanth Rawla et al "Epidemiology of gastric cancer: global trends, risk factors and prevention" Prz Gastroenterol. 2019; 14(1): 26–38. Epub 2018 Nov 28.
[x] L E Hansson et al "Diet and risk of gastric cancer. A population-based case-control study in Sweden" Int J Cancer. 1993 Sep 9;55(2):181-9.
[xi] Jovana Stojanovic et al "Adherence to Mediterranean diet and risk of gastric cancer: results of a case-control study in Italy" Eur J Cancer Prev. 2017 May 24. Epub 2017 May 24.