Report Warns Alcohol, Processed Meats and Obesity Increase Stomach Cancer Risk
Last fall, the World Health Organization labeled bacon and other processed meats as carcinogenic, which led to outrage among lovers of the salty, chewy breakfast food. But that was just the beginning of #bacongeddon.
Today, a new report linking processed meats to stomach cancer affirms they belong on a growing list of cancer risk factors, along with alcohol and obesity.
The findings, released today by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), are the culmination of the first-ever systematic review of global research linking stomach cancer to these factors. The review encompassed 89 older studies, which analyzed a total of 17.5 million adults, 77,000 of whom were diagnosed with stomach cancers. The AICR and the WCRF have summarized their research in a report, titled Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Stomach Cancer.
Specifically, the report notes that those who drink three or more alcoholic drinks per day are “probably” more likely to develop stomach cancer. The risk for men, smokers or ex-smokers who consume three drinks daily is even greater.
As for processed meats, the authors conclude that eating 1.8 ounces per day, every day -- the amount equivalent to one hot dog -- elevates lower-stomach cancer risk by 18 percent.
Obesity has also been suspected to cause stomach cancer in the past. The AICR and WCRF found that a person’s risk of cancer of the upper-stomach (called the cardia) increases by 23 percent with every five-unit-increase in body mass index.
“This report is a real wake-up call,” says Alice Bender, head of nutrition programs at AICR, in a statement tied to the report’s release. “Obesity is now linked to eleven types of cancer and we want Americans to know there are steps everyone can take for cancer prevention and better health, like eating more vegetables, beans, fruits and other plant foods along with squeezing in a few more steps every day.”
The authors explain that if everyone avoided the three risk factors they studied, Americans could prevent 4,000 new stomach cancer cases each year. Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is the fifth most common cancer and the third most fatal.
Salty-food lovers can take some hope from the report. While salt and stomach cancers had long been linked, with this new research, this correlation is now less strong. Still, the AICR advises that humans ingest no more than one teaspoon of salt per day.