Do Smoking and Drinking Prevent H. Pylori Infection in Women?

In a study, published in the Journal of International Medical Research, SAGE Journals, researchers found that that consumption of alcohol and smoking are major risk factors for H. pylori infection in men but has protective effects for females. This implicates the need for health professionals to use different diagnosis and eradication intervention for H. pylori with respect to different gender.

H.pylori transmits through different routes including stomach to mouth, mouth to mouth, and faeces to mouth. The expected main routes of transmission are from person to person in addition to spread of infection within family mainly close relatives or people living in same house. The associated factors for higher prevalence of H. pylori infection are large family size, low education level, low socio-economic status such as financial crisis, low family income, poor or no education, living in rural or crowded housing facility, and poorly sanitised water use. In developed countries the overall trend of H. pylori infection is decreasing because of improved sanitation and socio-economic status.

Source: Cancer Research UK

The study explaining gender differences with respect to smoking and alcohol consumption.

Researchers from China, Russia, France, and Pakistan conducted sex differential study to investigate the potential relationship of Helicobacter pylori infection with alcohol consumption and smoking relative to gender for the first time. The study was a cross-sectional and included contestants who went through frequent health check-ups for H. pylori infection between January 2013 and March 2017 where authors analysed and subsequently investigated the relationship of H. pylori infection with alcohol and smoking.

In the study, an estimated 7169 participants were selected. The participants enrolled were asymptomatic. Over 1358/7169 participants underwent 13C urea breath test (UBT) after a minimum 6-hour fast to determine the infection. The study reported an overall prevalence of 55.2 % of H. pylori infection. It was found that prevalence was higher in older people with mean age of over 47 years as well as Korean and other Asian populations. The possible reasons for higher prevalence relative to other regions and groups are low socio-economic status, poor sanitation, no access to clean water, and level of urbanisation.

In the study there was no significant difference reported in the prevalence of H. pylori infection with respect to male gender, 59.3% males vs. 57.1% females. The possible reason creating difference was consumption of alcohol and smoking.

Distribution of sex and age groups among 7169 participants. Source: SAGE Journals.

In the study, there was no considerable difference observed between individuals with and without infection relative to proportions of alcohol consumption and smoking. In the male subgroup, those who smoked and consumed alcohol had higher prevalence of infection than their counterparts, while for the female subgroup, those who smoked and consumed alcohol had lower prevalence of infection than their counterparts. Over 63.8 % of men who smoked and consumed alcohol out of 623 participants showed higher prevalence of H. pylori infection than women.

Prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection with respect to sex in participants with or without alcohol use and smoking. Source: SAGE Journals.

For males, it was found that smoking and alcohol consumption, both show independent and positive association with increased prevalence of H. pylori infection. However, it needs further elucidation at genetic level to understand how alcohol consumption and smoking are considered risk factors for males and protective factors for females.

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