Being a couch potato, binging on junk foods, not exercising and leading a sedentary lifestyle, all of these factors are known to increase your risk of several types of cancer. We understand that it may not be easy, but do you know that poor lifestyle choices up your risk of gastric cancer?
Gastric cancer is a type of cancer, where the malignant cells develop in the mucosal cells of the stomach, and most of the Gastric cancers are adenocarcinomas in nature. The other type of gastric cancers includes gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) lymphomas and carcinoid tumours and very rarely lymphomas.
Gastric cancer remains asymptomatic for an extended period and often when it is diagnosed it is in an advanced stage.
Risk Factors for Gastric Cancer
A risk factor is something that increases an individual’s chance of developing cancer. Though risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. A few people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no risk factors do. Well, knowing your risk factors and discussing them with your healthcare provider can help a person modify healthcare preferences. Additionally, it will help a person make better lifestyle choices to optimize their overall health and live a long and healthy life.
Common Risk Factors:
Age: Gastric cancer is most common in older people aged 55 and most people get diagnosed with Gastric cancer in their 60s and 70s.
Gender: Men are at higher risk to develop Gastric cancer than women.
Bacteria: Helicobacter pylori also called H. pylori, is a common bacterium that causes stomach inflammation and ulcers. It is considered one of the main causative factors of gastric cancer. If you have a first-degree relative like a parent, sibling, or child, who has been diagnosed with Gastric cancer and if the healthcare provider suspects an H.pylori infection, then testing for H.pylori is suggested and the infection can be treated with antibiotics if found.
Family History/Genetics: A person who has close family members like a parent, child, or sibling with gastric cancer is at a higher risk of getting this carcinoma. Also, certain inherited genetic disorders like hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, Lynch syndrome, hereditary breast, and ovarian cancer (HBOC), and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) may elevate the risk of gastric cancer.
Lifestyle Factors That Increase Risk of Gastric Cancer
People who follow unhealthy eating habits like regularly having salty foods and large quantities of food preserved by salt has been strongly associated with gastric cancer risk. This includes food preserved by drying, smoking, salting, or pickling and foods packed with added salt. Eating processed, grilled, or charcoaled meats often can increase the risk of non-cardia Gastric cancers. Furthermore, people who eat less or no fruits are at a higher risk of Gastric cancer. While on the other hand, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of gastric cancer.
Smoked meat products contain heterocyclic amines which are both mutagens and carcinogenic. People who ate smoked-dried salted meat daily had a three-fold elevated risk of Gastric cancer. Also smoked preserved, cured meat products, salted preserved foods, and fried foods contain nitrosamine. Processed meats contain high levels of nitrates and nitrites inducing Gastric cancer.
Alcohol intake can possibly increase the risk of gastric cancer. Further, studies have disclosed that risk is highest for people who have 3 or more drinks per day.
Tobacco smoking is associated with a high risk for oesophageal, gastric, pancreatic, biliary, and colorectal cancers. Tobacco delivers carcinogens directly to tissues leading to irritation and inflammation, which interferes with the body’s natural protective barrier and defense mechanism. Smoking combined with alcohol use and obesity collectively increase gastric cancer risk.
Obesity is considered a risk factor for all main gastrointestinal cancers. With an alarming prevalence of obesity globally, this link can lead to an increased burden of cancers of the digestive system. Studies have shown that obesity in early adulthood increases the risk of gastric cancer. The possible mechanism associated with obesity and gastric cancer includes gastro-oesophageal reflux, insulin resistance, changes in the levels of adiponectin, leptin, ghrelin, and an abnormally increased blood level of insulin-like growth factor (IGF).
Lack Of Physical Activity
Physical activity plays a significant role in maintaining good health status and have found to be extremely effective in preventing the risk of several chronic diseases. Lack of physical activity can lead to obesity, and inflammation which can collectively increase the risk of Gastric cancer.
Follow these tips to lower the risk of gastric cancer:
Having a rich array of colourful fruits and vegetables in the meal plan offers you essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can combat cancer.
Restricting the intake of salty and smoked foods can shield the mucosal lining of the stomach.
Quitting smoking and alcohol can lower the risk of many types of cancer, including gastric cancer. Though it can be very hard to quit smoking, consult your healthcare provider for help.
Inform your physician if Gastric cancer runs in your family. People with a strong family history should get Gastric cancer screening tests at regular intervals. Screening tests can identify gastric cancer at an early stage before it causes symptoms. Remember all cancers can be cured!! If diagnosed early.