Stomach Cancer Overview

+ -Text Size

Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

What are the risk factors for stomach cancer?

A risk factor is anything that affects a person’s chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, such as smoking, can be changed. Others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed. But risk factors don’t tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And many people who get the disease may have few or no known risk factors.

Risk factors for stomach cancer

Scientists have found some risk factors that make a person more likely to develop stomach cancer.

  • Gender: Stomach cancer is more common in men than in women.
  • Age: Risk increases with age.
  • Ethnicity: In the United States, stomach cancer is more common in Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Asian Pacific Islanders than it is in non-Hispanic whites.
  • Where a person lives: Worldwide, stomach cancer is more common in Japan, China, Southern and Eastern Europe, and South and Central America. This disease is less common in Northern and Western Africa, South Central Asia, and North America.
  • Infection with the bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
  • MALT lymphoma of the stomach, which is also caused by infection with H. pylori.
  • Diet: An increased risk of stomach cancer is seen in people with diets high in smoked foods, salted fish and meats, and pickled vegetables. The risk of stomach cancer seems to be lowered by eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Tobacco use
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Earlier stomach surgery: people who have had part of their stomach removed to treat other problems like ulcers have a higher risk of stomach cancer.
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Menetrier disease, a rare disease that involves changes in the stomach lining
  • Type A blood
  • Certain inherited cancer syndromes
  • Family history: People with close family members (parents, siblings, and children) who have had stomach cancer are more likely to get this disease.
  • A type of stomach polyp called adenomatous or adenoma sometimes change into stomach cancer.
  • Certain types of work: Workers in the coal, metal, and rubber industries seem to have a higher risk of getting stomach cancer.
  • Common variable immunodeficiency, a condition where the immune system can’t make enough antibodies in response to germs.

For more information about these risk factors, see our document Stomach Cancer.

Last Medical Review: 05/27/2014
Last Revised: 01/09/2015