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Preventing stomach cancer

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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As the causes of stomach cancer are not fully understood, it is not known if there is anything that can prevent it altogether. However, a few factors have been identified that may make the chances of developing stomach cancer less likely.

Eating a healthy diet

The risk of developing stomach cancer is believed to be linked to the kinds of foods that you eat. The fall in the number of cases of stomach cancer over the last 30 years is thought to be due to improvements in diet.

It is possible that stomach cancer may be caused by eating a large amount of salty foods, such as those that are pickled or smoked. Research has shown that in countries where these types of food are popular, such as in Japan, there are high rates of stomach cancer. As people in the UK do not tend to eat these kinds of foods as often, there tend to be far fewer cases of the condition. Technology such as refrigeration also means that we now eat more fresh food and less pickled or smoked food.

Eating a diet that is low in salt and processed foods and high in fruit and vegetables may help to reduce the risk of stomach cancer.

The Food Standards Agency recommends that adults should consume no more than 6g of salt a day, and that you should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. As well as helping to prevent stomach cancer, following these recommendations will help to protect against other forms of cancer and heart disease, and will improve your overall health.

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Quitting smoking

If you smoke, your risk of developing stomach cancer may be twice that of someone who is a non-smoker.

As well as stomach cancer, smoking causes many other forms of cancer and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Research has shown that you are up to four times more likely to successfully give up smoking if you use NHS support together with stop-smoking medicines, such as patches or gum. Ask your doctor about this, or visit the NHS Go Smokefree website.

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Medical Review: November 30, 2009

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