Consumption of These Foods May Help
While doctors have noted a steady decline in stomach cancer over the last few decades, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) found that it still makes up about 1.4% of all new cancer diagnoses in the States, with over 26 000 new cases in 2022. They also found that it was responsible for approximately 11 000 deaths in 2022. As with most diseases, there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing cancer. However, certain foods can increase or decrease your risk of developing it. Below we’ll take a closer look at what stomach cancer is and some of the best foods to incorporate or avoid to reduce cancer risk.
What is Stomach Cancer?
Stomach cancer is caused by the growth of cancerous cells within the stomach lining. These growths occur as a result of cells in the stomach mutating and starting to grow out of control, causing tumor growth. This condition tends to develop slowly over many years and may not show any symptoms until it has spread to other parts of the body.
Some risk factors for stomach cancer include:
- Genetic predisposition.
- Stomach polyps.
- Bacterial infections, specifically from H. pylori.
- Tumors in other areas of the digestive tract.
- Age–it is more common in adults over 60.
- Being a man.
- Drinking more than three drinks a day.
- Being sedentary.
- Rarely or never eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
Focusing on eating foods that support a healthy digestive system and are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients is one way to lower your risk and help prevent stomach cancer.
Foods That May Increase Stomach Cancer Risk
When it comes to stomach cancer prevention, certain foods have been associated with an increased risk. To lower risk of stomach cancer, limit or avoid these foods as much as possible:
- Red meat.
- Smoked and pickled foods.
- Salted meats and fish.
- Overly processed or fried foods.
To lower your risk, it’s recommended that you always practice proper food preparation and storage and quit smoking.
Foods that May Decrease Stomach Cancer Risk
While avoiding the foods mentioned above can play a role in cancer prevention, incorporating healthy, healing foods is another simple way to lower the risk of developing stomach cancer. Stanford Medicine suggests that a lower-risk cancer diet should incorporate foods, such as healthy whole grains, including whole grain bread and pasta, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Specifically, you’ll want to regularly enjoy foods rich in fiber and vitamins C and A to reduce cancer risk.
Some specific cancer-fighting foods to add to a healthy diet include:
1. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits, including oranges, lemons, grapefruit and limes, have been associated with a lower risk of cancer in certain studies. One review found that people who incorporated at least three servings of citrus fruits a week reduced their risk of stomach cancer by a whopping 28%.
This humble root vegetable is a rich source of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A recommended to help lower the risk of stomach cancer. This study found that enjoying carrots regularly lowered stomach cancer risk by 26%. Try enjoying carrot sticks with hummus or adding them to your soups, salads and wraps!
Garlic has long been enjoyed for its heart-healthy benefits, but did you know that it also contains a potent phytonutrient called allicin that has been shown to kill cancer cells? A large study of over 500,000 people found a correlation between those who ate the most allium veggies, including garlic and onions, and a lower risk of stomach cancer when compared to people who rarely or never ate these veggies. Try adding onions, garlic and leeks to your salads, sauces, soups and stews to boost your allicin intake and help reduce cancer risk.
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains, including whole-grain bread, pasta and cereals, are a rich source of dietary fiber. Adding foods rich in fiber has been inversely associated with stomach cancer risk, so enjoy your whole-grain toast with some fresh fruit for breakfast to lower your risk!
5. Olive Oil
The Mediterranean diet in general has been associated with a significantly lower risk of stomach cancer, likely because it is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Another major component of this diet is olive oil, which is known for its high levels of antioxidants and health benefits. In terms of cancer prevention, enjoying the olive oil as part of a healthy diet has been associated with a reduced risk of many types of cancer, including stomach cancer. Enjoy olive oil in homemade salad dressings or for low-heat cooking.
What is QINLOCK?
There is a type of rare tumor that impacts the gastrointestinal tract called a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). While they can develop anywhere from the mouth to the anus, about half of them start in the stomach. These tumors develop due to an abnormality in the growth and proliferation of the cells in the digestive tract, more specifically when these cells continue to grow and multiply when they should die off.
One of the main treatments for this rare form of stomach cancer is a drug called QINLOCK, which is prescribed to cancer patients who have already undergone three or more kinase inhibitor treatments without effect. It is a targeted medication that is not a chemotherapy drug that works by essentially limiting the amount of energy the tumor cells have to grow and multiply and by targeting key sites on the tumor to prevent further mutations.