A recent study suggests that the Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) bacterium is not solely responsible for the potentially pre-cancerous rapid growth of cells in the lining of the stomach in persons with a family history of stomach cancer. Note: H.pylori is thought to cause a majority of peptic ulcers and is found in about 70-90% of patients with gastric cancer. Researchers at the University of Magdeburg, Germany, examined the stomachs of 19 patients with a family history of gastric carcinoma and 20 with no such history, but who were complaining of heartburn, to collect data. The study found that patients with a family history of the disease had greater levels of rapidly proliferating cells, compared to those with no such family history. Authors say the decision to conduct regular endoscopic screenings of persons with a family history of gastric cancer are sometimes based on H.pylori status, but that the current findings suggest that such screening may be advisable for anyone with a family history of the disease. The study is in the journal Cancer (1998;83:876-881).
MedBriefs (INC inc.) 9/18/98
Over-the-counter pain killers linked to gastrointestinal risks
A recent report concludes that use of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) pain relievers is associated with a significantly increased risk of gastrointestinal (GI) problems. Researchers at Stanford University studied GI problems in 4,164 rheumatoid arthritis patients to collect data and found that those who were frequent users of NSAIDs had nearly four-times the risk of GI bleeding or GI-related hospitalization, compared to those who did not take the drugs. Authors note that users of acetaminophen showed no increase risk of GI-related complications, unlike users of aspirin, ibuprofen or other NSAIDs, whose risk of GI-bleeding increased significantly, and that, while previous studies have associated prescription-strength NSAID use to be associated with GI complications, the current study is the first to link over-the-counter doses to the increased risk. The report was presented at the World Congress of Gastroenterology in Vienna (September 10, 1998).
MedBriefs (INC inc.) 9/15/98
Ulcer bacteria linked to migraine headaches
A recent report suggests that helicobacter pylori (H.pylori), the bacteria implicated in up to 90% of peptic ulcers, may be associated with migraine headaches. Researchers at the University of Torino, Italy, studied 37 people who suffered from migraine without aura and 117 controls to collect data and found that 54% of migraine sufferers tested positive for the bacteria, compared to 14% of the controls. Authors note that, overall, women were more likely to be infected with the bacteria and that women under the age of 40 had the greatest risk of infection. Data taken from a Migraine Trust release (London, England) (September 8, 1998).
MedBriefs (INC inc.) 9/15/98
Painkiller from new drug class undergoing accelerated review
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced plans for a priority review of an experimental painkiller from the new class of drugs called Cox-2 inhibitors. Cox-2 inhibitors work by interfering with the production of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2, which is known to play a role in both pain and swelling; drugs in the class do not, however, interfere with cyclooxygenase-1, which plays a role in the production of the stomach's protective lining, meaning that the new drugs could well have fewer of the gastrointestinal side effects associated with other pain medications. The painkiller, Celebra from Monsanto Co.'s G.D. Searle & Co. unit, is being considered by the FDA for approval for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and to treat pain. Data taken from a Monsanto Co. release (August 25, 1998).
MedBriefs (INC inc.) 8/30/98