Stomach Cancer

Most scientists agree that these things affect the risk of stomach cancer. Some may apply to you, but others may not.

Age

The risk of stomach cancer goes up with age. Most cases are diagnosed after age 50.

Sex

Men have a higher risk of stomach cancer than women. This difference in risk, though, is not as great in the United States as it is in other parts of the world.

Tobacco

People who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of stomach cancer. The dangerous chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the genetic material (DNA) in cells, leading to cancer.

In addition to stomach cancer, people who smoke also have a higher risk of many other types of cancer, including leukemia and cancers of the lung, lip, mouth, tongue, larynx, esophagus, bladder and kidney. Smokers also have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, bone loss (osteoporosis), emphysema and bronchitis.

Salt

Eating too much salt can increase the risk of stomach cancer. A high-salt diet can hurt the lining of the stomach and increase the risk of getting an Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection. Both of these can lead to abnormal changes in the cells of the stomach that could lead to cancer. Try to keep salt under 6,000 milligrams a day, which is the same as keeping sodium under 2,300 milligrams a day.

Helicobacter pylori

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a very common type of bacteria. People who are infected with these bacteria have a higher risk of stomach cancer, but most people with H. pylori never develop cancer.

Blood Type

People who have type A blood have a higher risk of stomach cancer. Scientists don’t know exactly why, but one possibility is that people with this blood type may also have certain genes linked to stomach cancer.

Family History

People who have a close relative (mother, father, brother or sister) with stomach cancer have a higher risk of the disease. This is because some stomach cancer is linked to mutations (changes) in the genetic structure (DNA) of the body’s cells that can be passed from generation to generation.

To assess your risk for stomach cancer and get tips for reducing that risk, visit the Your Disease Risk website.