The first step in reducing your chances of getting stomach cancer is knowing the risks associated with the disease. There are, obviously, risks that are out of your control like your family history. Additionally, there are other non-controllable risks like:
- Sex (men have a much higher incidence of stomach cancer than women)
- Age (the majority of patients are over 65)
- Race (more common in Asians, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics and African Americans)
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection (bacteria that commonly lives in the stomach and can cause peptic ulcers and gastritis)
- History of health problems such as chronic gastritis and peptic ulcers (both of which can be caused by the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection), pemicious anemia or a history of stomach surgery
Even if you have have several of these risk factors, it doesn’t mean stomach cancer is inevitable. There are many things you can do to reduce your risk:
- Diet - avoid foods that are smoked, pickled or high in salt. Fortunately, the incidence of stomach cancer from this risk has been reduced over the years because of refrigeration, rather than other methods of preserving freshness. Also, eating food with plenty of fiber and vitamin A & C may lower your risk, as well.
- Smoking - quitting is always the right decision for your overall health, including reducing your chances of getting stomach cancer.
- Alcohol - moderation is key. Limit the amount you drink.
- Maintain a healthy weight
So, even if your uncontrolled factors are high, there’s a lot you can do reduce your overall risk. Should you still be concerned that you may have stomach cancer in the absence of symptoms, talk to your doctor. He may suggest an endoscopic screening (a flexible fiberoptic light tube is introduced through the mouth, esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestines to view and biopsy any suspicious areas for examination) to rule out or confirm the diagnosis.