Helicobacter pylori infection, linked to gastric cancer, is responsible for a large worldwide disease burden. H pylori prevalence and gastric cancer rates are elevated among indigenous Arctic communities, but implementation of prevention strategies is hampered by insufficient information. Some communities in northern Canada have advocated for H pylori prevention research. As a first step, community-driven research was undertaken to describe the H pylori-associated disease burden in concerned communities.
Participants in this cross-sectional study completed a clinical interview and gastroscopy with gastric biopsies taken for histopathological examination in February 2008.
Study procedures were carried out at the health centre in Aklavik, Northwest Territories, Canada (population ∼600).
All residents of Aklavik were invited to complete a clinical interview and gastroscopy; 194 (58% female participants; 91% Aboriginal; age range 10–80 years) completed gastroscopy and had gastric biopsies taken.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
This analysis estimates the prevalence of gastric abnormalities detected by endoscopy and histopathology, and associations of demographic and clinical variables with H pylori prevalence.
Among 194 participants with evaluable gastric biopsies, 66% were H pylori-positive on histology. Among H pylori-positive participants, prevalence was 94% for acute gastritis, 100% for chronic gastritis, 21% for gastric atrophy and 11% for intestinal metaplasia of the gastric mucosa, while chronic inflammation severity was mild in 9%, moderate in 47% and severe in 43%. In a multivariable model, H pylori prevalence was inversely associated with previous gastroscopy, previous H pylori therapy and aspirin use, and was positively associated with alcohol consumption.
In this population, H pylori-associated gastric histopathology shows a pattern compatible with elevated risk of gastric cancer. These findings demonstrate that local concern about health risks from H pylori is warranted and provide an example of how epidemiological research can address health priorities identified by communities.