Digesting the facts

Digesting the facts

Are you at risk for stomach cancer?

There is really no way to know for sure if you are going to get stomach cancer. Certain risk factors may make you more likely to get it than another person. However, just because you have one or more risk factors does not necessarily mean you will get stomach cancer. In fact, you can have all the risk factors and still not get stomach cancer, or you can have no known risk factors and still get it.

Some factors put you at increased risk of stomach cancer. Others are still being investigated and may or may not increase your risk. If you agree with any of these statements, then ask your doctor to help you think of ways you can lower your risk.

* I eat a lot of processed or cured meats or salted, pickled, and smoked foods.

People with a diet high in salty foods are at greater risk of getting stomach cancer. This includes food that is smoked, cured, salted, or pickled. Researchers think that salt and similar chemicals such as sodium nitrite, which is found in cured meats, can change into cancer-causing substances. People with a diet high in vegetables and fruits may have a lower risk, however.

* I use tobacco products.

People who use tobacco are at a higher risk of getting stomach cancer.

* I am very overweight.

Obesity is a risk linked to many cancers, including stomach cancer. Obesity and smoking together increase your risk even more.

* I’ve had stomach polyps.

The risk for stomach cancer is higher in a person who has had small growths, called stomach polyps. This risk is greater if you’ve had a growth type called adenomatous polyps.

* I’ve had stomach surgery.

If you’ve already had surgery to remove part of your stomach for stomach ulcers, you are at increased risk of cancer occurring in the stomach that remains.

* I have Helicobacter pylori infection.

These bacteria, which often cause stomach ulcers, can injure the lining of the stomach. This leads to a higher risk of stomach cancer.

* I have pernicious anemia.

This is a severe problem in producing red blood cells due to the stomach’s inability to absorb vitamin B12. People with pernicious anemia are at increased risk of stomach cancer.

* I have Menetrier’s disease.

This rare disease may be linked to stomach cancer. In Menetrier’s disease, you have large folds in your stomach. The stomach lining is not normal and the stomach produces too little acid. Menetrier’s disease is also called hypertrophic gastropathy.

* I am male.

Men are twice as likely to get stomach cancer as women.

* I am over the age of 50.

After the age of 50, people are more likely to get stomach cancer. Most people with stomach cancer are between 60 and 80 years old.

* I have several close family relatives who have had stomach cancer.

People who have several first-degree relatives (mother, father, sister, brother) who have had stomach cancer are more likely to get it.

* I have type A blood.

People with type A blood are at a higher risk of getting stomach cancer. Researchers do not yet know why this is true.

Meet the Doctor: Caroline Honculada, MD

Dr. Caroline Honculada specializes in Gastroenterology and Hepatology with Lake Wales Medical Center and also serves patients at Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center. She is board-certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology, and is a Fellow of the American Gastroenterological Association. This information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information and facilitate conversations with your physician that will benefit your health.

CREDITS

story by CAROLINE HONCULADA, MD

Categories: Features, Health News

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