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Main risk factors for stomach cancer

A few main risk factors account for most stomach and oesophagus cancers that occur in the general population, new research suggests. Although numerous reports have identified risk factors for these diseases, no study has comprehensively examined their contributions to the cancer burden in the general population.

Main risk factors for stomach cancer

A few main risk factors account for most stomach and oesophagus cancers that occur in the general population, as suggested by new research. Although numerous reports have identified risk factors for these diseases, no study has comprehensively examined their contributions to the cancer burden in the general population. Researchers from the Cancer Center in New York, involved 1,143 patients with oesophagus or stomach cancer, and 695 healthy people. The patients were diagnosed between 1993 and 1995 in Connecticut, New Jersey, or Washington. The researchers looked at the four main types of cancer that involve the oesophagus and stomach: adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus, squamous cell cancer of the oesophagus, adenocarcinoma of "cardia" region of the stomach, and adenocarcinoma of other stomach areas.Being overweight accounted for the greatest percentage of oesophagus adenocarcinomas i.e. 41 percent. The next biggest contributor was smoking that accounted for 40 percent of the cases. Together, being overweight, smoking, reflux of stomach contents into the oesophagus, and low fruit and vegetable consumption accounted for 79 percent of cases. Alcohol consumption was responsible for the greatest percentage of oesophageal squamous cell cancers i.e. 72 percent. For stomach cardia adenocarcinomas, smoking was the biggest contributor, responsible for 45 percent of cases. A history of ever smoking and being overweight together accounted for 56 percent of cases. For other stomach adenocarcinomas, increased nitrite intake, a compound found in smoked foods, accounted for the greatest percentage of cases i.e. 41 percent.
The rapid rise in the rate of new cases of stomach and oesophagus cancers that has occurred appears to result from increases in the prevalence of several risk factors that people are capable of changing, Efforts to reduce the prevalence of being overweight, having gastroesophageal reflux, and smoking and to improve diet could reverse this troubling cancer trend.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Sept 2003
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