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Stomach Cancer Causes
Stomach Cancer Causes
Certain segments of the population have a greater risk for developing stomach cancer. You can lower certain risk factors by making healthy lifestyle choices. Other risk factors are not in your control, especially those linked to family history and heredity.
Understanding the risks and causes of stomach cancer is the first step in seeking proper testing. This, along with regular checkups, can help you lower your risk of developing stomach cancer. Learn more about stomach cancer prevention.
Stomach Cancer Causes: Diet and Lifestyle
Research has linked certain dietary and lifestyle choices with higher rates of stomach cancer. Researchers think that salt and similar chemicals such as sodium nitrite, which is found in cured meats, can change into cancer-causing substances.
While fine to eat in moderation, a diet high in nitrate-rich foods has been linked to higher rates of stomach cancer. These foods include:
- Processed or cured meats
- Salted, pickled and smoked foods
Other diet and lifestyle choices that increase the risk of stomach cancer include:
- Smoking or using other tobacco products
Stomach Cancer Causes: Conditions and Diseases
Having certain stomach-specific conditions and diseases increases your risk of developing stomach cancer. If you have a history of these conditions and diseases it does not mean that you will develop stomach cancer, it only means that you are at a higher risk of developing stomach cancer. These conditions and disease include:
- Stomach polyps: The risk for stomach cancer is higher in a person who has had small growths, called stomach polyps. This risk is greater if you've had a type called adenomatous polyps.
- Previous stomach surgery: If you've already had surgery to remove part of your stomach for stomach ulcers, you are at increased risk of cancer occurring in the stomach that remains.
- Helicobacter pylori infection: This is a bacterial infection that can cause stomach ulcers and injure the lining of the stomach. This bacteria increases your risk of stomach cancer.
- Megoloblastic (pernicious) anemia: This is a severe problem in producing red blood cells due to the stomach's inability to absorb vitamin B12. People with megoloblastic anemia are at increased risk of stomach cancer.
- Menetrier's disease: This rare disease may be linked to stomach cancer. In Menetrier's disease (also known as hypertrophic gastropathy), you have large folds in your stomach. The stomach lining is abnormal, and the stomach produces too little acid.
Stomach Cancer Causes: Family History, Heredity and Gene Mutations
People who have several first-degree relatives (mother, father, sister, brother) who have had stomach cancer are more likely to get stomach cancer. In addition, the risk of developing stomach cancer is higher if you have a family history of certain hereditary conditions and gene mutations. These include:
- Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer: This cancer of the lower digestive tract is linked to inherited gene mutations.
- Familial adenomatous polyposis: This inherited disease is characterized by early onset of polyps throughout the large intestine.
- BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations: Certain hereditary gene mutations have been linked to the development of certain types of cancer, including stomach cancer.
- Type A blood: People with type A blood are at a higher risk of getting stomach cancer. Researchers do not yet know why this is true.
We have an increasingly sophisticated understanding of genetic and hereditary diseases. If you have a family history of any of these conditions, talk to your doctor about genetic counseling and genetic testing.
Stomach Cancer Causes: Higher Risk Populations
Researchers have been able to identify certain segments of the general population that are at greater risk for developing stomach cancer. These segments of the population include:
- Men: Although it is still unclear why, men are twice as likely to develop stomach cancer as are women.
- Senior citizens: As we age, our chance of getting stomach cancer increases. After the age of 50, people are more likely to get stomach cancer. Most people with stomach cancer are between 60 and 80 years old.
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