First Time Science Admits Bacteria Can Lead To Cancer
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Editor, The Konformist
First Time Science Admits Bacteria Can Lead To Cancer
Alan Cantwell MD
The 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for BACTERIA as a
CAUSE of STOMACH ULCERS
Has been awarded to: Barry Marshall and Robin Warren from Australia.
This is the first recognition (via a Nobel Prize) that BACTERIA can
lead to CANCER!! Of course, this idea has been "medical heresy" for
more than a century.
Perhaps someday physicians will recognize the fact that BACTERIA are
involved in MANY FORMS OF CANCER (see the work of "FOUR WOMEN"
Alan Cantwell MD
The 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has today decided to
award The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2005 jointly to
Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren for their discovery of "the
bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic
This year's Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine made the
remarkable and unexpected discovery that inflammation in the stomach
(gastritis) as well as ulceration of the stomach or duodenum (peptic
ulcer disease) is the result of an infection of the stomach caused
by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.
Robin Warren (born 1937), a pathologist from Perth, Australia,
observed small curved bacteria colonizing the lower part of the
stomach (antrum) in about 50% of patients from which biopsies had
been taken. He made the crucial observation that signs of
inflammation were always present in the gastric mucosa close to
where the bacteria were seen.
Barry Marshall (born 1951), a young clinical fellow, became
interested in Warren's findings and together they initiated a study
of biopsies from 100 patients. After several attempts, Marshall
succeeded in cultivating a hitherto unknown bacterial species (later
denoted Helicobacter pylori) from several of these biopsies.
Together they found that the organism was present in almost all
patients with gastric inflammation, duodenal ulcer or gastric ulcer.
Based on these results, they proposed that Helicobacter pylori is
involved in the aetiology of these diseases.
Even though peptic ulcers could be healed by inhibiting gastric acid
production, they frequently relapsed, since bacteria and chronic
inflammation of the stomach remained. In treatment studies, Marshall
and Warren as well as others showed that patients could be cured
from their peptic ulcer disease only when the bacteria were
eradicated from the stomach. Thanks to the pioneering discovery by
Marshall and Warren, peptic ulcer disease is no longer a chronic,
frequently disabling condition, but a disease that can be cured by a
short regimen of antibiotics and acid secretion inhibitors.
Peptic ulcer -- an infectious disease!
This year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine goes to Barry
Marshall and Robin Warren, who with tenacity and a prepared mind
challenged prevailing dogmas. By using technologies generally
available (fibre endoscopy, silver staining of histological sections
and culture techniques for microaerophilic bacteria), they made an
irrefutable case that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori is causing
disease. By culturing the bacteria they made them amenable to
In 1982, when this bacterium was discovered by Marshall and Warren,
stress and lifestyle were considered the major causes of peptic
ulcer disease. It is now firmly established that Helicobacter pylori
causes more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and up to 80% of gastric
ulcers. The link between Helicobacter pylori infection and
subsequent gastritis and peptic ulcer disease has been established
through studies of human volunteers, antibiotic treatment studies
and epidemiological studies.
Helicobacter pylori causes life-long infection
Helicobacter pylori is a spiral-shaped Gram-negative bacterium that
colonizes the stomach in about 50% of all humans. In countries with
high socio-economic standards infection is considerably less common
than in developing countries where virtually everyone may be
Infection is typically contracted in early childhood, frequently by
transmission from mother to child, and the bacteria may remain in
the stomach for the rest of the person's life. This chronic
infection is initiated in the lower part of the stomach (antrum). As
first reported by Robin Warren, the presence of Helicobacter pylori
is always associated with an inflammation of the underlying gastric
mucosa as evidenced by an infiltration of inflammatory cells.
The infection is usually asymptomatic but can cause peptic ulcer
The severity of this inflammation and its location in the stomach is
of crucial importance for the diseases that can result from
Helicobacter pylori infection. In most individuals Helicobacter
pylori infection is asymptomatic. However, about 10-15% of infected
individuals will some time experience peptic ulcer disease. Such
ulcers are more common in the duodenum than in the stomach itself.
Severe complications include bleeding and perforation.
The current view is that the chronic inflammation in the distal part
of the stomach caused by Helicobacter pylori infection results in an
increased acid production from the non-infected upper corpus region
of the stomach. This will predispose for ulcer development in the
more vulnerable duodenum.
Malignancies associated with Helicobacter pylori infection
In some individuals Helicobacter pylori also infects the corpus
region of the stomach. This results in a more widespread
inflammation that predisposes not only to ulcer in the corpus
region, but also to stomach cancer. This cancer has decreased in
incidence in many countries during the last half-century but still
ranks as number two in the world in terms of cancer deaths.
Inflammation in the stomach mucosa is also a risk factor for a
special type of lymphatic neoplasm in the stomach, MALT (mucosa
associated lymphoid tissue) lymphoma. Since such lymphomas may
regress when Helicobacter pylori is eradicated by antibiotics, the
bacterium plays an important role in perpetuating this tumour.
Disease or not -- interaction between the bacterium and the human
Helicobacter pylori is present only in humans and has adapted to the
stomach environment. Only a minority of infected individuals develop
stomach disease. After Marshall's and Warren's discovery, research
has been intense. Details underlying the exact pathogenetic
mechanisms are continuously being unravelled.
The bacterium itself is extremely variable, and strains differ
markedly in many aspects, such as adherence to the gastric mucosa
and ability to provoke inflammation. Even in a single infected
individual all bacteria are not identical, and during the course of
chronic infection bacteria adapt to the changing conditions in the
stomach with time.
Likewise, genetic variations among humans may affect their
susceptibility to Helicobacter pylori. Not until recently has an
animal model been established, the Mongolian gerbil. In this animal,
studies of peptic ulcer disease and malignant transformation promise
to give more detailed information on disease mechanisms.
Antibiotics cure but can lead to resistance
Helicobacter pylori infection can be diagnosed by antibody tests, by
identifying the organism in biopsies taken during endoscopy, or by
the non-invasive breath test that identifies bacterial production of
an enzyme in the stomach.
An indiscriminate use of antibiotics to eradicate Helicobacter
pylori also from healthy carriers would lead to severe problems with
bacterial resistance against these important drugs. Therefore,
treatment against Helicobacter pylori should be used restrictively
in patients without documented gastric or duodenal ulcer disease.
Microbial origin of other chronic inflammatory conditions?
Many diseases in humans such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis,
rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis are due to chronic
inflammation. The discovery that one of the most common diseases of
mankind, peptic ulcer disease, has a microbial cause, has stimulated
the search for microbes as possible causes of other chronic
Even though no definite answers are at hand, recent data clearly
suggest that a dysfunction in the recognition of microbial products
by the human immune system can result in disease development. The
discovery of Helicobacter pylori has led to an increased
understanding of the connection between chronic infection,
inflammation and cancer.
Alan Cantwell MD
FOUR WOMEN AGAINST CANCER
Bacteria, Cancer and the Origin of Life
Cantwell, Alan. 2005
Aries Rising Press, Los Angeles, CA
Back in the 1950s a group of four women scientists began to work
together to uncover the microbiology of cancer. Rather than being
received with enthusiasm, their published cancer research was
largely ignored or overlooked. In this highly controversial book,
Alan Cantwell, MD, presents the revolutionary cancer research of
physician Virginia Livingston, MD; microbiologist Eleanor Alexander-
Jackson; cell cytologist Irene Diller; and world-famous biochemist
Florence Seibert - all of whom discovered an easily detectable
bacterial agent in cancer -a microbe whose existence is still
totally denied by the medical establishment. Unlike any infectious
agent known to science, the cancer microbe has characteristics of
both bacteria and viruses-and produces a remarkable hormone that
allows life to continually reproduce and renew itself. This book
should prove of interest to readers who want to learn more about the
bacteriology of cancer, and how this knowledge could prove useful in
the conquest of cancer.