U.S. medical scientists say they’ve determined chronic inflammation can cause stomach cancer — the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the world.
The multi-center research team led by Columbia University Medical Center said it discovered, for the first time, that elevated levels of a single pro-inflammatory cytokine, an immune system protein called IL-1 Beta, can start the progression towards stomach cancer. The scientists said they hope their finding will lead to development of ways to block the process, thereby preventing cancer from developing.
“This study shows that accumulation of IL-1 Beta, which is induced by infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori in the gastrointestinal tract, is a significant contributor to the onset of stomach cancer,” said Dr. Timothy Wang, a professor of medicine and lead author of the study. “We show in this study that IL-1Beta works by activating a type of white blood cell known as myeloid derived suppressor cells, which in our study appeared to be strongly pro-inflammatory. Blocking IL-1Beta or the myeloid cells may represent a potential strategy to prevent stomach cancer.”
The study is reported in the journal Cancer Cell.