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Bacteria & Stomach Cancer

May 20, 2015

Bacteria that increase the risk of cancer hide out in the stomach.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (Host):

Half of the world’s population has a type of bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, living in their stomachs. It’s usually benign, but can increase stomach cancer risk. Manuel Amieva at Stanford University wondered how the bacteria survive.

MANUEL AMIEVA (Stanford University):

The stomach is such a harsh environment. One of its functions is just to kill all of the bacteria that we’re eating with our food.

HIRSHON:

Finding bacterial hideouts was difficult without the right samples, until Amieva realized he could use tissue removed during weight-loss surgery.

AMIEVA:

Usually that tissue is just discarded.

HIRSHON:

Using these samples, Amieva discovered H. pylori safely buried deep within glands, the same spot where cells that produce other stomach cells live. Amieva’s findings, published in the journal Gastroenterology, suggest H. pylori causes these cells to divide more frequently, leading to cancer. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.