The Stomach Cancer Risk Factors You Need To Know
Lowering your risk for stomach cancer could be as simple as making healthy behavioral changes. While some risk factors for cancer cannot be changed, such as family history, others are within your control. Here are the stomach cancer risk factors – both controllable and uncontrollable – that you need to know about.
Static Risk Factors
While these risk factors for stomach cancer cannot be changed, the knowledge that you are at higher risk than the general population can help your doctor diagnose the disease early, when it’s likely easier to treat. Uncontrollable risk factors for stomach cancer include:
This type of cancer affects men twice as often as it does women, though scientists still aren’t sure why.
Most incidences of stomach cancer occur in people older than age 50. It most commonly strikes those between their late 60s and 80s.
Within the United States, stomach cancer more frequently affects Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders than Caucasians. However, the prevalence of stomach cancer is lower in North America than in Asia, Europe, and South America.
Helicobacter pylori infection
Scientists believe that infection with this bacteria causes inflammation that leads to pre-cancerous changes in the lining of the stomach.
Previous stomach surgery
People who have had surgery to remove part of the stomach, such as for an ulcer or gastric bypass, are more likely to develop stomach cancer. People who have had these procedures produce less stomach acid, which scientists think may cause cancer-causing bacteria to proliferate.
Type A blood
People with this blood type are more likely to develop stomach cancer, although reasons for this link are unknown.
People with a first-degree relative (parent, child, or sibling) who has had stomach cancer are more likely to also develop the disease.
Controllable Risk Factors
These lifestyle risk factors can be changed. Taking steps to make healthy choices can reduce your risk for developing stomach cancer, even if you have one or more of the static risk factors listed above.
Those who develop stomach cancer tend to eat a lot of foods with nitrates, such as lunch meats, smoked foods, salted fish and meat, and pickled vegetables. On the contrary, people who eat a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables have lower risk for stomach cancer.
Smokers are about twice as likely to develop stomach cancer as are people who do not smoke.
People who are overweight are at higher risk for many types of health issues, including stomach cancer. Taking steps to lose weight can lower risk for disease.
Excess Alcohol Consumption
Those who drink more alcohol than recommended are at higher risk for stomach cancer. The recommended amount is no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men, with a drink defined as a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or one ounce of liquor.
If you’re concerned about your risk factors for stomach cancer, talk with your doctor. He or she can help you take healthy lifestyle steps to lower your risk.