Are You at Risk for Gastric Cancer?
Sue Byrne | Dec 1, 2017
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Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, tends to develop slowly over many years. These early changes don't always cause symptoms. Who is more likely to develop gastric cancer?
Men are twice as likely to develop stomach cancer as women. The reasons for increased risk in men are unclear. Some experts think estrogen may protect against gastric cancer. But the protective effect of hormones is diminished after menopause.
Most people diagnosed with stomach cancer are:
There is a sharp increase in stomach cancer rates in people over the age of 50, according to the American Cancer Society. Most people diagnosed are between their late 60s and 80s.
In the United States, stomach cancer occurs more often among:
Stomach cancer is more common among Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders than it is among Caucasians. But that could be because of environmental factors rather than genetic variations. People in Japan, for example, have higher rates of gastric cancer than people in the U.S., and Japanese people who migrate here still have high rates of stomach cancer. But rates decline and become similar to those of Americans of European ancestry after two generations.
Eating this food regularly may increase your risk of stomach cancer:
Meat, fish, and vegetables preserved by drying, smoking, salting, or pickling and foods high in added salt can raise your risk of stomach cancer, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables may help lower your risk.
Being infected with Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) bacteria may be a major cause of stomach cancer, especially cancers in the lower part of the stomach.
According to the American Cancer Society, long-term infection of the stomach with this germ may lead to pre-cancerous changes of the inner lining of the stomach. People with stomach cancer have a higher rate of H pylori infection than people without this cancer. Current guidelines recommend screening and treatment for H. pylori only if you’re in a high-risk group for stomach cancer.
You’re at increased risk for stomach cancer if:
The rate of stomach cancer is about double for smokers. According to the American Cancer Society, the risk is particularly high for cancer of the upper portion of the stomach near the esophagus. The use of tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco, is a major risk factor for esophageal cancer. The more a person uses tobacco and the longer it is used, the higher the cancer risk.
If you have this blood type you’re at higher risk for stomach cancer:
For unknown reasons, people with type A blood have a higher risk of getting stomach cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2012 found that people with type O blood showed a significantly reduced risk of gastric cancer compared with non-O type blood groups. The susceptibility of people with type A blood to gastric cancer may be attributed in part, the researchers found, to a higher risk of H. pylori infection.
If you have a parent, sister, brother, or child who has stomach cancer, your risk for developing it yourself is higher.
People with first-degree relatives who have had stomach cancer are more likely to get this disease. In addition, certain inherited genetic disorders may raise your risk, such as hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, Lynch syndrome, and familial adenomatous polyposis.
Your stomach cancer risk is lower if you’ve had part of your stomach removed.
According to the American Cancer Society, stomach cancers are more likely to develop in people who have had part of their stomach removed to treat ulcers and other non-cancerous diseases. Scientists think that this might be because a partial stomach produces less acid, which allows more nitrite-producing bacteria to exist.
Getting too much vitamin B12 is linked to the development of stomach cancer.
Actually, stomach cancer is linked to a vitamin B12 deficiency, which affects the body’s ability to make new red blood cells and can cause other problems. This condition is called pernicious anemia.
Workers in the coal, metal, and rubber industries have a lower risk of getting stomach cancer.
Workers in those industries seem to have a higher risk of stomach cancer, evidence shows. Other “dusty” occupations — for example, wood processing or work in high-temperature environments — have also been implicated, but the evidence is not as strong for those.