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hypochlorhydria may be protective against gastro-oesophageal reflux
disease. It was hypothesised that the historic decline in
Helicobacter pylori infection resulted in a
decline in peptic ulcer and a concomitant rise in reflux disease.
Aims—To study the time trends of peptic ulcer and reflux disease.
Methods—Hospitalisation rates were analysed using the computerised database of the US Department of Veterans Affairs from 1970 until 1995. Death rates were calculated from the Vital Statistics of the United States.
Results—From 1970 to 1995, hospitalisation rates for gastric and duodenal ulcer, as well as gastric cancer fell, while the hospitalisation rates for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and those for oesophageal adenocarcinoma rose significantly. Similar time trends were observed with respect to the death rates. There were notable ethnic differences. White subjects incurred higher rates of reflux disease and oesophageal adenocarcinoma and lower rates of gastric ulcer or cancer compared with non-whites.
Conclusions—The ethnic variations and the opposing time trends of gastroduodenal versus oesophageal disease are consistent with the hypothesis that the declining infection rates of H pylori in the general population have led to a rise in the occurrence of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and associated oesophageal adenocarcinoma.
Keywords: gastric cancer; gastritis; gastro-oesophageal reflux disease; hypochlorhydria; Helicobacter pylori; oesophageal adenocarcinoma