Stomach Cancer Prevention

Stomach cancer prevention starts with understanding stomach cancer risk factors and making changes to your lifestyle when possible. Two of the most controllable risk factors are:

  • A high-salt diet: Cancer experts attribute declining rates of stomach cancer largely to many people eating less salt, partly because refrigeration has replaced salting, pickling and smoking foods.
  • Smoking: Numerous studies link smoking to an increased risk of gastric cancer and show that smokers who quit reduce their risk.

A major risk factor for stomach cancer is infection with the helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, which causes inflammation and changes in the lining of the stomach that have been linked to cancer. If you have this infection, you may want to talk to your doctor about treating it with antibiotics, which some studies show, lowers the risk of stomach cancer.

Stomach Cancer Risk Factors: Diet

In addition to decreasing the salt in your diet, eating more fruits and vegetables can further reduce your risk of stomach cancer. Research has clearly shown that a diet rich in fresh produce is helpful in preventing most cancers and many other diseases. Some studies have suggested that eating a lot of red meat (an average of about twice a day) increases the risk of stomach cancer, but this connection is less clear.

Research has also suggested that a healthy diet is even more important in stomach cancer prevention for people with an H. pylori infection.

Stomach cancer research on using dietary supplements to decrease cancer risk has produced mixed results. Some evidence indicates that combinations of antioxidant supplements may reduce stomach cancer risk in people who eat poorly. Potentially helpful supplements include vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and selenium. Some studies suggest that drinking tea, especially green tea, may help prevent stomach cancer, but other studies haven’t found this connection.

More Stomach Cancer Prevention

Some studies suggest that obesity increases the risk of gastric cancer. Although the connection isn’t clear, eating a healthier diet and losing weight will likely improve your overall health.

The American Cancer Society (2010) notes that using aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) appears to reduce stomach cancer risk. However, because these drugs can cause serious internal bleeding and other health risks in some people, most doctors do not typically recommend NSAIDs as a preventative measure against stomach cancer.

Stomach Cancer Research

Clinical trials are ongoing for both stomach cancer prevention and treatment. The National Cancer Institute website maintains a list of trials currently accepting patients.

Resources

American Cancer Society. (2010). Stomach cancer. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/StomachCancer/DetailedGuide/

Mayo Clinic. (2009). Stomach cancer prevention. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stomach-cancer/DS00301/DSECTION=prevention

National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Stomach (gastric) cancer prevention. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/prevention/gastric/Patient/page3