A report summarizing global scientific research on the effects that diet, weight, and physical activity have on the risk of developing stomach cancer found that four factors are strongly associated with increasing the likelihood of developing this disease:
- consuming three or more alcoholic drinks a day
- eating foods preserved by salting (such as pickled vegetables)
- consuming processed meat (such as bacon, ham, pastrami, or hot dogs)
- being overweight or obese.
More limited evidence suggests that having grilled or barbecued meat and fish on your menu and taking in little or no fruit also increase this risk. Finally, some evidence indicates that consuming citrus fruit decreases stomach cancer risk.
Men are twice as likely as women to develop stomach cancer; the average age of diagnosis is 72. Stomach cancer symptoms often appear only at a late stage of this disease, which in part accounts for its poor prognosis: In the U.S., the five-year survival rate is about 25 percent to 28 percent.
Given the deadliness of this disease, it makes sense to reduce your risk by modifying the relevant lifestyle factors this comprehensive analysis targets.
Marian Freedman is a freelance medical editor and writer based in Watchung, NJ. She is a contributing editor to Contemporary Pediatrics, as well as chief editor for MedEdits, a medical education consulting firm.