Until the late 1930s, stomach cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Now, it is much less common in our country – although it is still the deadliest cancer worldwide.
Studies have shown that stomach cancer is linked to a bacteria, which is found in foods that are prepared a certain way. While you cannot prevent stomach cancer, you can take steps to lower your risk:
Avoid salted meats and smoked and pickled foods. The use of refrigeration to keep foods fresh helps prevent bacterial infections that can be caused by salting, pickling and smoking foods.
Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. When possible, choose fresh food over processed food. The American Cancer Society recommends you eat at least two and a half cups of fruits or vegetables each day.
Avoid tobacco use. “Smoking or drinking can damage the lining of your stomach, leading to stomach cancer,” says Rafid J. Hussein, DO, gastroenterologist, Saint Francis Medical Partner.
Stay active. “Obesity is a risk factor for many types of cancers,” says Hussein. “That is why it is so important to maintain a healthy weight and participate in regular exercise. You should be engaging in cardiovascular activity at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week.”
Symptoms of stomach cancer can be similar to those of many other gastroesophageal conditions – eating problems, abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting and heartburn. However, symptoms do not usually appear until the cancer is advanced. Symptoms like weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting blood and persisting anemia are suggestive of advanced stomach cancer.
“The key is to see your doctor if you are not feeling well,” says Hussein. “If you have any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from a stomach virus or another problem. But if the symptoms do not go away, you and your doctor need to determine what is wrong.”
For more information, call 573-331-3000.