Stomach cancer causes and risk factors
A risk factor is something that affects a person’s risk of getting a disease like cancer. The risk factors for stomach cancer are as follows:
Men are twice as likely to develop stomach cancer as women are
Stomach cancer occurs mostly in people over 55 years of age.
3. Ethnicity and race
Stomach cancer is more common in African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians than in Caucasians and white people.
Stomach cancer is seen more commonly in Japan, China, Southern and Eastern Europe and South and Central America (these are also incidentally places that eat many foods that are preserved by drying, smoking, salting or pickling) Stomach cancer is less commonly found in Northern and Western Africa, South Central Asia, and North America.
5. Tobacco use
Tobacco use and alcohol consumption may increase the risk of stomach cancer.
6. Previous stomach surgery
Health conditions of the stomach pernicious anemia, achlorhydria or prior surgery in the stomach can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
7. Helicobacter pylori infection
Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori is a common bacterium causing stomach inflammation and ulcers. As a primary cause for stomach cancer, testing for the bacteria recommended if a first degree relative has been diagnosed with stomach cancer or with H. pylori. If confirmed, the infection is treated with antibiotics.
8. Stomach lymphoma
Lymphomas like the mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma have proven to increase the risk of getting adenocarcinoma of the stomach. This is probably because MALT lymphoma is caused by H pylori bacteria.
Foods that are smoked, salted or pickled can be converted easily by the H. pylori into compounds that have been proved to cause stomach cancer in animals tested at the lab.
On the contrary, fresh fruit and vegetables tend to decrease the risk of cancer.
Being overweight is possibly associated to cancers of the cardia but the strength of this link is still not very clear.
11. Pernicious anemia
Some cells in the stomach lining make a substance called intrinsic factor (IF) that absorbs vitamin B12 from foods, the lack of which causes a deficiency in vitamin B12. This directly affects the body’s ability to make new red blood cells. This condition is known as pernicious anemia where there are too few red blood cells. This increases the risk of developing stomach cancer.
12. Menetrier disease
Menetrier’s disease is a massive overgrowth in mucus cells of the stomach as a result of which there are large gastric folds that develop in the lining of the stomach. This has also been proven to increase stomach cancer.
13. Type A blood
The blood type of a person refers to certain substances that are normally present on the surface of red blood cells and some other cells. These blood types are important when optimal transfusion donors should be matched. For reasons that have not been found yet, people with type A blood have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer.
14. Inherited cancer syndromes
Inherited conditions like the following may raise a person’s risk of stomach cancer:
a. Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer: This condition is rare and is caused by mutations in the CDH1 gene. It has been undeniably associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer.
b. Lynch syndrome or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC): Lynch syndrome (formerly known as HNPCC) is an inherited genetic disorder that increases the risk of colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, and some other cancers. It is mostly caused by mutations in the MLH1 or MSH2 gene. In rarer cases, Lynch syndrome is caused by mutations in the MLH3, MSH6, TGFBR2, PMS1, and PMS2.
c. Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP): This is a condition that causes polyps in the colon, stomach and the intestines due to mutations in the APC gene, thereby increasing the risk of getting stomach cancer.
d. BRCA1 and BRCA2: People with mutations of the inherited breast cancer genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 may also have a higher rate of developing stomach cancer.
e. Li-Fraumeni syndrome: People with this syndrome have an increased risk of several types of cancer, including stomach cancer at a relatively young age. Li-Fraumeni syndrome is caused by a mutation in the TP53 gene.
f. Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS): This condition leads to developing polyps in stomach and the intestines, the nose, the airways of the lungs and the bladder. These polyps are called hamartomas and the cause problems like bleeding or blockage of the intestines. PJS also cause dark spots on the lips, inner cheeks and other areas. People that are affected have an increased risk of breast, colon, pancreas, stomach, and other cancers. This syndrome is caused by mutations in the STK1 gene.
15. A family history of stomach cancer:
A history of stomach cancer in first degree relatives also increases the risk of developing stomach cancer.
16. Certain occupations
Exposure to dust and certain fumes and working in coal, rubber or metal mines can increase risk of stomach cancer.
17. Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) infection
American Cancer Society published that Epstein-Barr virus has been found in cancer cells of about 5 to 10 percent of people with stomach cancer
18. Common variable immune deficiency:
The immune system of people with CVID can’t make enough antibodies to fight germs and these people tend to have frequent infections like atrophic gastritis and pernicious anemia, leading to an increased risk of stomach cancer.
Read more about targeted therapy for stomach cancer.