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Peptic ulcers after the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami

A study in the latest issue of Journal of Gastroenterology investigates the possible existence of psychosocial stress ulcers in humans.

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Societal stress derived from an event that affects the whole society, e. g., a natural disaster, provides a unique, indirect way of determining the relationship between psychological stress and peptic ulcer disease in humans.

In this study, Dr Takeshi Kanno and colleagues from Japan investigated the changing patterns of the incidence of peptic ulcers before and after the Great East Japan earthquake, which occurred in 2011.

The research team reported that clinical data of patients with peptic ulcers were retrospectively collected during the 3 months after the earthquake from 7 major hospitals in the middle of the stricken area, compared with the data for the same period of the previous year.

The eligible subjects were classified into 4 groups according to Helicobacter pylori infection status and intake of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

The research team noted that the incidence of all types of peptic ulcers was 1.5-fold increased after the earthquake, and in particular, the incidence of hemorrhagic ulcers was 2-fold increased.

The gastric ulcer/duodenal ulcer ratio in hemorrhagic ulcers was also significantly increased.

The incidence of all types of peptic ulcers was 1.5-fold increased after the earthquake
Journal of Gastroenterology

Regarding the etiology of the peptic ulcers, the proportion of non-H. pylori and non-nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ulcers was significantly increased, from 13% in 2010 to 24% in 2011 after the earthquake.

Dr Kannno's team concluded, "In addition to the increased incidence of peptic ulcers, compositional changes in the disease were observed after the Great East Japan earthquake."

"The significant increase in the proportion of non-H. pylori and non-nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ulcers after the earthquake indicated that psychological stress alone induced peptic ulcers in humans independently of H. pylori infection and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs intake."

J Gastroenterol 2013: 48(4): 483-490
14 May 2013

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