Risk Factors for Stomach Cancer

Like many other cancers, doctors do not know the exact causes of stomach cancer. However, it is known that certain risk factors make it more likely to develop stomach cancer.

Helicobacter pylori infection: H. pylori is a bacterium that commonly infects the inner lining (the mucosa) of the stomach. Infection with H. pylori can cause stomach inflammation and peptic ulcers. It also increases the risk of stomach cancer, but only a small number of infected people develop stomach cancer.

Long-term inflammation of the stomach: People who have conditions associated with long-term stomach inflammation (such as the blood disease pernicious anemia) are at increased risk of stomach cancer. Individuals who have had part of their stomach removed may have long-term stomach inflammation and increased risk of stomach cancer many years after their surgery

Smoking: Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop stomach cancer. Heavy smokers are most at risk.

Family history: Close relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) of a person with a history of stomach cancer are somewhat more likely to develop the disease themselves. If many close relatives have a history of stomach cancer, the risk is even greater.

Poor diet, lack of physical activity, or obesity, which includes:

  1. Studies suggest that people who eat a diet high in foods that are smoked, salted, or pickled have an increased risk for stomach cancer. On the other hand, people who eat a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables may have a lower risk.
  2. A lack of physical activity may increase the risk of stomach cancer.
  3. People who are obese may have an increased risk of cancer developing in the upper part of the stomach

Information taken from the Gastric Cancer Foundation [11].

Genetic and hereditary conditions

Genetic mutations play a role in the development of all cancers. Over the course of a lifetime, gene changes can result in different kinds of cancers including stomach cancer. Doctors can test for these gene changes. A genetic counselor, doctor, or other health care professional trained in genetics can help patients and their families understand the genetic test results [12].

To find out more details about potential risk factors please visit the Canadian Cancer Society.

To find out more details about genetics and hereditary conditions which could lead to stomach cancer, please visit Debbie’s Dream Foundation.