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Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Patient Information [NCI] - Stomach Cancer Prevention

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

Avoiding cancer risk factors may help prevent certain cancers. Risk factors include smoking, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise. 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.

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The following are risk factors for stomach cancer:

Certain medical conditions

Having any of the following medical conditions may increase the risk of stomach cancer:

  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection of the stomach.
  • Intestinal metaplasia (a condition in which the cells that line the stomach are replaced by cells that normally line the intestines).
  • Chronic atrophic gastritis (thinning of the stomach lining caused by long-term inflammation of the stomach).
  • Pernicious anemia (a type of anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency).
  • Stomach (gastric) polyps.

Certain genetic conditions

Genetic conditions may increase the risk of stomach cancer in people with any of the following:

Diet

The risk of stomach cancer may be increased in people who:

  • Eat a diet low in fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat a diet high in salted or smoked foods.
  • Eat foods that have not been prepared or stored the way they should be.

Environmental causes

Environmental factors that may increase the risk of stomach cancer include:

  • Being exposed to radiation.
  • Working in the rubber or coal industry.

The risk of stomach cancer is increased in people who come from countries where stomach cancer is common.

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

Stopping smoking

Studies show that smoking is linked with an increased risk of stomach cancer. Stopping smoking or never smoking decreases the risk of stomach cancer. Smokers who stop smoking lower their risk of having stomach cancer over time.

Treating 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 bacteria infects the stomach, the stomach may become inflamed and cause changes in the cells that line the stomach. Over time, these cells become abnormal and may become 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 treating H. pylori infection with antibiotics lowers the number of deaths from stomach cancer or keeps changes in the stomach lining, that can lead to cancer, from getting worse.

It is not known if the following factors lower the risk of stomach cancer or have no effect on the risk of stomach cancer:

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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