What are the risk factors for stomach cancer?


A risk factor is any factor that is associated with increasing someone’s chances of developing a certain condition, such as cancer. Some risk factors are modifiable, such as lifestyle or environmental risk factors. Others cannot be modified, such as inherited factors or whether someone in the family has had cancer. 

Having 1 or more risk factors does not mean that you will develop cancer. Many people have at least 1 risk factor but will never develop cancer, while others with cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a person with cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease. 

Although the causes of stomach cancer are not fully understood, there are a number of factors associated with the risk of developing the disease. These factors include: 

  • having one of a number of chronic stomach conditions, such as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, chronic gastritis (stomach inflammation) or gastric polyps (non-cancerous growths on the inner lining of the stomach) 
  • being older (most stomach cancers are in people over the age of 60) 
  • having low levels of red blood cells 
  • having had a partial gastrectomy (stomach removal) to treat non-cancerous conditions 
  • eating a lot of salty, smoked or pickled foods, and not a lot of fruits and vegetables 
  • smoking tobacco 
  • drinking a lot of alcohol 
  • being overweight or obese 
  • having a family history of stomach cancer or gastrointestinal disorders. 

If you are concerned about your risk for stomach cancer, please see your doctor. 

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