Risks for stomach cancer
Certain behaviours, substances or conditions can affect your risk, or chance, of developing cancer. Some things increase your risk and some things decrease it. Most cancers are the result of many risks. But sometimes cancer develops in people who don't have any risks.
Helicobacter pylori infection is the main risk for stomach cancer.
More men than women develop stomach cancer. The risk of developing stomach cancer increases with age and is greatest after 50 years of age. Some studies show that low socio-economic status is linked with a higher rate of stomach cancer.
Stomach cancer is most common in Japan, China, South America and Eastern Europe. It is not as common in North America. In Canada, the number of new cases of stomach cancer diagnosed each year has been going down since the 1980s.
Precancerous conditions of the stomach include gastric epithelial dysplasia and gastric adenoma. They are not cancer, but they can sometimes become stomach cancer if they are not treated. Some of the things that increase the risk for stomach cancer may also cause these precancerous conditions. Find out more about precancerous conditions of the stomach.
Some people with certain genetic conditions have a higher than average risk for stomach cancer. Talk to your doctor about your risk. If you have a genetic condition that increases the risk of stomach cancer, you may need to visit your doctor more often to check for stomach cancer. Your doctor will recommend what tests you should have and how often you should have them.
The following can increase or decrease your risk for stomach cancer. There are things you can do to lower your risk and help protect you from developing cancer.
Certain infections @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Infections with the following viruses and bacteria increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and inflammation of the stomach lining (called gastritis). While H. pylori can increase the risk, not all people infected with H. pylori will develop stomach cancer. H. pylori may act with other factors to increase the risk of developing stomach cancer. The age when you are infected may also affect your risk of developing stomach cancer.
Learn more about Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and how to reduce your risk of H. pylori infection.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a type of herpes virus that causes infectious mononucleosis (also called mono, or the "kissing disease"). Infection with EBV may increase the risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma of the stomach, which is a rare type of stomach cancer. It may also increase the risk of developing adenocarcinoma, the most common type of stomach cancer.
Learn more about Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Smoking tobacco @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Smoking tobacco increases your risk for stomach cancer.
All forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars and pipes, increase your risk.
The more you smoke and the longer you smoke, the greater your risk. The risk of developing stomach cancer decreases with time after you quit smoking.
Learn more about how to live smoke-free.
Family history of stomach cancer @(Model.HeadingTag)>
If you have a
Learn more about cancer risk in families.
Genetic conditions @(Model.HeadingTag)>
A genetic condition is a disease caused by a change (mutation) in one or more genes. Having certain genetic conditions increases the risk of developing stomach cancer.
Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC) increases the risk of developing diffuse adenocarcinoma (gastric cancer). With this type of cancer, the cancer cells are spread throughout the stomach lining and don't form a tumour in one area. Stomach cancer linked with HDGC usually develops before the person is 40 years of age. Doctors may suspect HDGC when stomach cancer develops in several members of a family.
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is an
People with FAP have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer and small intestine cancer. FAP also increases the risk of stomach, adrenal gland and thyroid cancers.
Lynch syndrome is an
There are 2 types of Lynch syndrome. Type A increases the risk for colorectal cancer, while type B increases the risk of several cancers, including colorectal cancer and other digestive system cancers, and ovarian and uterine cancers in women.
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is an
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome increases the risk of developing colorectal, small intestine, stomach, pancreatic, breast and other types of cancer.
Juvenile polyposis syndrome causes polyps to grow in the
Li-Fraumeni syndrome is an
People with Li-Fraumeni syndrome tend to develop several different types of cancer before the age of 45.
Breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) normally help control the growth of cancer cells. Changes in these genes (which can be inherited from either parent) increase the risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
Learn more about genes and cancer.
Certain stomach conditions @(Model.HeadingTag)>
The following non-cancerous stomach conditions increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.
Chronic atrophic gastritis is when the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed. It is usually caused by an infection with H. pylori. It can also develop if the immune system attacks healthy tissues of the stomach lining by mistake (called autoimmune atrophic gastritis).
Intestinal metaplasia is when cells in the stomach are replaced by cells that normally line the intestines. It may be caused by H. pylori infection, inherited conditions, diet or other factors.
Ménétrier disease is a rare disease that causes cells in the lining of the stomach to grow too much and form large folds in the lining.
Pernicious anemia is a type of anemia (a lower than normal number of red blood cells) that develops when the GI tract can't absorb vitamin B12. The body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells. People with pernicious anemia may develop polyps in the stomach.
Previous stomach surgery @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Surgery to remove part of the stomach is called partial gastrectomy. This surgery may be used to treat stomach ulcers. People who have had stomach surgery have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer. This may be because bile from the small intestine moves into the remaining stomach and causes inflammation. It is not clear if this happens because of H. pylori infection, because the stomach makes less stomach acid or because of other reasons.
Surgery to treat ulcers in the first part of the small intestine (called the duodenum) doesn't seem to increase the risk for stomach cancer.
Contact with ionizing radiation @(Model.HeadingTag)>
People who came in contact with
Some studies suggest that people treated with some forms of radiation therapy have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer. This includes people who were treated with a radioisotope for thyroid cancer and people given
Working in the rubber industry @(Model.HeadingTag)>
People who work in the rubber manufacturing and processing industry have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer. This is because they come into contact with cancer-causing chemicals commonly used in the rubber industry.
Learn more about how to be safe at work.
Type A blood @(Model.HeadingTag)>
People with type A blood have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer, but the reason for this is not known.
Salt and salty foods @(Model.HeadingTag)>
There is evidence that eating salt and salty foods, including salt-preserved and salted foods, increases the risk for stomach cancer. There is also a link between salt intake and developing intestinal metaplasia.
Researchers are not sure if salt increases your risk for stomach cancer on its own, or if it increases the risk when it is combined with other risk factors like H. pylori.
Studies also link the lack of food refrigeration to a higher risk for stomach cancer. This is probably because people who don't have access to refrigeration often use salt to preserve their food.
Limit the amount of salt and salty foods you eat. Limit the amount of salt you use in cooking and add less salt to your food at the table. Learn more about how to eat less salt.
Possible risks @(Model.HeadingTag)>
The following have been linked with stomach cancer, but there is not enough evidence to know for sure that they are risks. More research is needed.
- not eating enough vegetables and fruit
- smoked, cured and processed meats
- grilled and barbecued meats
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- contact with lead at work
No link to stomach cancer @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Significant evidence shows no link between stomach cancer and proton pump inhibitors (drugs that lower stomach acid) or wood dust.
Canadian Cancer Society | Société canadienne du cancer
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