Stomach Cancer Risk Factors & Prevention

Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables can help prevent unwanted changes in the lining of your stomach.

Stomach cancer has several known risk factors. Some you can control, others you can’t.

Your diet and lifestyle choices can play a role in the risk for developing this cancer, for example. Using tobacco and drinking a lot of alcohol can increase your risk, as can a diet high in salted, smoked, or pickled foods. Some studies also indicate that a diet low in a mineral called selenium, which is present in various nuts, fish, and meats, can increase your risk for the disease.

Risk Factors You Can’t Control

Illnesses that lower the level of acid in your stomach can increase your risk of developing gastric cancer. These include the autoimmune disorder pernicious anemia and a rare illness called Ménétrier disease that causes the growth of large folds in the stomach.

Infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which can cause chronic inflammation in the inner layer of your stomach, can also lead to the development of precancerous tissue and gastric lymphoma in some cases.

You may also be at increased risk for gastric cancer if you have close relatives with the illness, or if you are of Asian, Eastern European, or South American heritage. For reasons that are still unclear, people with type A blood are also at higher risk.

Inherited Illnesses that May Increase Your Risk Include:

Learn about MSK’s Gastric Cancer Registry

Our Early Onset and Familial Gastric Cancer Registry aims to characterize factors that can increase your risk for gastric cancer, especially the inherited or acquired gene mutations that cause this cancer in young people. Better understanding of the risk factors can lead to more effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat stomach cancer.