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Stomach Cancer Prevention

Stomach Cancer Prevention

Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may help prevent stomach cancer.

Avoiding cancer risk factors such as smoking, being overweight, and lack of exercise may help prevent certain cancers. Increasing protective factors such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising may also help prevent some cancers. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about how you might lower your risk of cancer.

The following risk factors may increase the risk of stomach cancer:

Smoking

Studies show that smoking is linked with an increased risk of stomach cancer. Avoiding or stopping smoking decreases the risk of stomach cancer. Smokers who stop smoking lower their risk of developing stomach cancer over time.

Helicobacter pylori infection

Studies show that chronic infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria is linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer. When H. pylori infects the stomach over a long time, it may become inflamed and cause changes in the lining of the stomach that can lead to cancer.

Some studies show that treating H. pylori infection with antibiotics lowers the risk of stomach cancer. More studies are needed to find out whether curing H. pylori infection lowers the number of deaths from stomach cancer or keeps changes in the stomach lining, that can lead to cancer, from getting worse.

Salt in the diet

Studies show that eating a diet with a lot of salt may increase the risk of stomach cancer. Many people in the United States now eat less salt, to lower the risk of high blood pressure. This may be why rates of stomach cancer have decreased in the U.S.

The following protective factors may decrease the risk of stomach cancer:

Diet high in fruit and vegetables

Some studies show that eating fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C and beta carotene may lower the risk of stomach cancer. Studies also show that whole-grain cereals, carotenoids, green tea, and substances found in garlic may lower the risk of stomach cancer. These studies may have included people whose usual diets were low in nutrients. This change in diet may not have the same effect in people who already eat a healthy diet.

It is not known if changing your diet to include more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains lowers your risk of stomach cancer.

Dietary supplements

Certain vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements may help lower the risk of stomach cancer. In China, a study of increased beta carotene, vitamin E, and selenium supplements in the diet showed a lower number of deaths from stomach cancer. The study may have included people who were missing these nutrients in their usual diets. It is not known if increased dietary supplements would have the same effect in people who already eat a healthy diet.

Other studies have not shown that taking dietary supplements such as beta carotene, or vitamin C lowers the risk of stomach cancer.

Cancer prevention clinical trials are used to study ways to prevent cancer.

Cancer prevention clinical trials are used to study ways to lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Some cancer prevention trials are done with healthy people who have not had cancer but who have an increased risk for cancer. Other prevention trials are done with people who have had cancer and are trying to prevent another cancer of the same type or to lower their chance of developing a new type of cancer. Other trials are done with healthy volunteers who are not known to have any risk factors for cancer.

The purpose of some cancer prevention clinical trials is to find out whether actions people take can prevent cancer. These may include eating fruits and vegetables, exercising, quitting smoking, or taking certain medicines, vitamins, minerals, or food supplements.

New ways to prevent stomach cancer are being studied in clinical trials.

Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about clinical trials can be found in the Clinical Trials section of the NCI Web site. Check NCI's list of cancer clinical trials for stomach cancer prevention that are now accepting patients.