Causes and prevention of stomach cancer

The cause of stomach cancer is unknown. But there are things called risk factors that can increase your chance of getting the disease. These include:

  • Age: It is more likely to occur in people over the age of 55.
  • Gender: It is more common in men than women.
  • Smoking and alcohol: People who smoke are twice as likely to develop stomach cancer. Alcohol may also increase your risk if you smoke as well.
  • Diet: A diet low in fresh fruit and vegetables can increase your risk of stomach cancer. A diet high in salt and preservatives can increase your risk as well.
  • Chronic gastritis/ulcers/acid reflux: If you have a history of gastritis, stomach ulcers or acid reflux, you may be at an increased risk.
  • Family history of stomach cancer: If a family member has had stomach cancer, it can increase your risk.
  • Barrett's oesophagus: In this condition, abnormal cells develop in the lining of the lower end of the oesophagus where it joins the stomach. A small number of people with this condition develop stomach cancer.
  • Helicobacter pylori infection: If these bacteria in your stomach are left untreated, you could increase your risk of getting stomach cancer. The risk is higher if you smoke and have a poor diet as well.
  • Pernicious anaemia: If you are lacking vitamin B12, it can cause pernicious anaemia, which affects the lining of your stomach.
  • Hereditary conditions: These are conditions you are born with and run in families. For example, if you have small benign growths in your stomach, it can increase your risk of stomach cancer. These conditions are usually rare.

Call our National Cancer Helpline

Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm