Changing epidemiology of Helicobacter pylori in Asia


Correspondence to: Huck J TAN, Sunway Medical Center, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, Email:


As in developed societies, the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori has declined rapidly in Asia. This has been shown in both seroprevalence-based and endoscopy-based studies. While the decline in the incidence of gastric cancer has now been observed, a decrease in peptic ulcer disease has not been so clearly evident. This apparent paradox can be explained by an increase in non-H. pylori associated ulcers – such as those related to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or idiopathic ulcers. The increase of gastroesophageal reflux disease in Asia has been widely observed and commented on and its relationship to the decline in H. pylori speculated upon. However there have been few conclusive studies from Asia on this subject. While the improved diagnosis and elimination of H. pylori has contributed to its decline, a more basic change involving large segments of the Asian population must be responsible. An improvement in hygiene and living conditions that results from more affluent Asian societies is thought to be a possible cause.