Helicobacter pylori Infection: Prevalence and Clinical Relevance in a Large Company


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Abstract

Although gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses account of considerable sick absenteeism, there have been few workplace studies of GI disorders. We determined the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection by serology and assessed its relation to upper GI tract complaints, personal ulcer history, and family history of stomach cancer in 6,143 employees (mean age, 40.4 years) at BASF's main chemical production facilities in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Employees were recruited during occupational health clinic visits (n= 4,488) and through broad communications efforts (n = 1,655). Participation among clinic attendees was 66%, and this recruitment method was particularly effective in reaching shift employees. Positive immunoglobulin G (IgG) serology (38.2%), ulcers (4.9%), nonulcer dyspepsia (20.4%), and a family history of stomach cancer (6.1%) were common occurrences in this work setting. Further diagnostic evaluation and eradication therapy was recommended for 795 employees (12.9%), based on a combination of positive serology and either upper GI tract complaints or family stomach cancer history, and has been completed for 541 employees. A weak but consistent association was seen between positive serology and cigarette smoking, and shift work was found to be associated with positive serology, but not with ulcer nonulcer dyspepsia occurrence.

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