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Infection by certain pathogens is associated with cancer development. We conducted a case-cohort study of ~2500 incident cases of esophageal, gastric and duodenal cancer, and gastric and duodenal ulcer and a randomly selected subcohort of ~2000 individuals within the China Kadoorie Biobank study of >0.5 million adults. We used a bead-based multiplex serology assay to measure antibodies against 19 pathogens (total 43 antigens) in baseline plasma samples. Associations between pathogens and antigen-specific antibodies with risks of site-specific cancers and ulcers were assessed using Cox regression fitted using the Prentice pseudo-partial likelihood. Seroprevalence varied for different pathogens, from 0.7% for Hepatitis C virus (HCV) to 99.8% for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the subcohort. Compared to participants seronegative for the corresponding pathogen, Helicobacter pylori seropositivity was associated with a higher risk of non-cardia (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 2.73 [95% CI: 2.09-3.58]) and cardia (1.67 [1.18-2.38]) gastric cancer and duodenal ulcer (2.71 [1.79-4.08]). HCV was associated with a higher risk of duodenal cancer (6.23 [1.52-25.62]) and Hepatitis B virus was associated with higher risk of duodenal ulcer (1.46 [1.04-2.05]). There were some associations of antibodies again some herpesviruses and human papillomaviruses with risks of gastrointestinal cancers and ulcers but these should be interpreted with caution. This first study of multiple pathogens with risk of gastrointestinal cancers and ulcers demonstrated that several pathogens are associated with risks of gastrointestinal cancers and ulcers. This will inform future investigations into the role of infection in the etiology of these diseases.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Cancer

Publication Date





1423 - 1432


duodenal cancer, duodenal ulcer, esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, infectious pathogens, Adult, Humans, Cohort Studies, Duodenal Ulcer, Ulcer, Duodenal Neoplasms, Seroepidemiologic Studies, Epstein-Barr Virus Infections, Herpesvirus 4, Human, Cardia, Gastrointestinal Neoplasms, Hepatitis C, Helicobacter Infections, Helicobacter pylori