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Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine

 
Risk factors

Most scientists agree that these things affect the risk of stomach cancer. Some may apply to you, but others may not.

Age
Sex
Tobacco use
Salt
Helicobacter pylori
Blood type
Family history



Age and stomach cancer
The risk of stomach cancer goes up with age. Most cases are diagnosed after age 50.

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Sex and stomach cancer
Men have a higher risk of stomach cancer than women. This difference in risk, though, is not as great in the United States as it is in other parts of the world.

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Tobacco use and stomach cancer
People who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of stomach cancer. The dangerous chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the genetic material (DNA) in cells leading to cancer.

In addition to stomach cancer, people who smoke also have a higher risk of many other types of cancer, including leukemia and cancers of the lung, lip, mouth, tongue, larynx, esophagus, bladder, and kidney. Smokers also have a higher risk of other diseases like heart disease, diabetes, bone loss (osteoporosis), emphysema and bronchitis.


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Salt
Eating too much salt can increase the risk of stomach cancer. A high salt diet can hurt the lining of the stomach and increase the risk of getting an H pylori infection. Both of these can lead to abnormal changes in the cells of the stomach that could lead to cancer. Try to keep salt under 6000 mg a day, which is the same as keeping sodium under 2300 mg a day.

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Helicobacter pylori infection and stomach cancer
Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) is a very common type of bacteria. People who are infected with these bacteria have a higher risk of stomach cancer, but most people with H pylori never develop cancer.

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Blood type and stomach cancer
People who have type A blood have a higher risk of stomach cancer. Scientists don’t know exactly why, but one possibility is that people with this blood type may also have certain genes linked to stomach cancer.

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Family history and stomach cancer
People who have a close relative (mother, father, brother, or sister) with stomach cancer have a higher risk of the disease. This is because some stomach cancer is linked to mutations (changes) in the genetic structure (DNA) of the body's cells that can be passed from generation to generation.

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