The actual cause of stomach cancer is not yet known. However, there are a number of known risk factors. A stomach cancer risk factor is anything that increases an individual’s chance of developing stomach cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer.
Stomach Cancer Risk Factors
The following are known risk factors for stomach cancer:
- Age – Stomach cancer presents most commonly in older people due to it not exhibiting any symptoms at earlier stages and remaining undetected and untreated.
- Gender – Men are more likely to develop the disease than women.
- Family History/Genetics – Individuals who have a parent, child, or sibling who has had stomach cancer exhibit a higher risk of the disease. Additionally, certain inherited genetic disorders, such as Lynch syndrome, hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC), and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) may increase the risk of stomach cancer.
- Diet – A high salt diet has been linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer. This includes foods preserved by drying, smoking, salting, or pickling and foods high in added salt.
- Tobacco – Smoking tobacco increases the risk of getting many types of cancer including stomach cancer.
- Occupational exposure – Exposure to certain dust, fumes, and particular chemicals may increase the risk of developing this cancer.
Certain health conditions may also increase the chance of a person developing stomach cancer. These include:
- Barrett’s esophagus – In this condition, abnormal cells develop in the lining of the lower end of the esophagus where it joins the stomach. A small number of people with this condition develop stomach cancer.
- Pernicious anemia – A decrease in red blood cells that occurs when the intestines cannot properly absorb vitamin B12.
- Chronic gastritis (long-term inflammation of the stomach) – Individuals with a long history of gastritis may be at an increased risk of developing this cancer.
- Helicobacter pylori infection – If these bacteria in the stomach are left untreated, the risk of getting this disease may be higher.
Having a risk factor does not mean you have cancer or will develop cancer. Conversely, individuals with no risk factors may also develop the disease. You should consider getting yourself checked by a physician if you are worried and especially if you have several of the risk factors mentioned above.
Some Links Which You May Find Useful
Singapore General Hospital Medical Oncology Division [linked updated 10 Aug 22]
National University Hospital Surgical Oncology division
Gleneagles Hospital Cancer (Oncology) department
Mount Elizabeth Hospital Cancer (Oncology) centre
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.