Obesity, Processed Meats and Alcohol Can Put You at a Higher Risk of Stomach Cancer


It’s not new news that obesity has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Now, a recent study has shown that obesity, along with a high intake of alcohol and consumption of processed meats can also put an individual at an increased risk of stomach cancer.

The Study

These findings were reported in a paper title Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Stomach Cancer, released by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. It reflected a systematic review of global research on the link between alcohol, processed meat and obesity and cancer. Eighty nine studies on stomach cancer, diet, physical activity and weight were considered, which covered 17.5 million adults. Of these study participants, 77,000 were diagnosed with stomach cancer.

With regards to alcohol, the report states that more than 1.5 ounces of alcohol per day increases the risk of stomach cancer. Similarly, the report states that for every 1.8 ounces of processed meat eaten each day, the risk of lower stomach cancer increases by 18%.

Finally, the report also states that there is a 23% risk of cardia stomach cancer per every five unit increase over an individual’s normal Body Mass Index.

“This report is a real wake-up call. 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,” said Alice Bender, MS, RDN, Head of Nutrition Programs at AICR in a statement.

Indeed, all cancer incidents across the world are on the rise; there are around one million stomach cancer cases each year globally.

Preventive Steps

Considering the results of the study, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to take a few steps to ensure you’re not increasing the likelihood of getting stomach cancer.

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For one, try cutting out all processed meats completely. Processed meats are loosely defined as “any meat which has been modified in order to improve its taste or extend its shelf life”. Therefore, processed meats include salted, cued, fermented and smoked meat as well as canned meats. Popular processed meats are bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausages and salami. The process of treating this meat has been found to create carcinogenic (cancer-causing) nitrosamines which can lead to stomach cancer. Try replacing processed meats in your diet with fresh meat instead – replace your breakfast of bacon and eggs with a chicken omelette and substitute that canned tuna sandwich with a beef sandwich made with fresh meat.

Additionally, try keeping your alcohol consumption level under 1.5 ounces – that’s under 45 ml per day. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified alcoholic beverages as a group 1 carcinogen, having found to increase the likelihood of breast, larynx, liver, oesophagus, oral cavity, pharynx and now stomach cancers. Some statistics suggest that 3.6% of all cancer cases and 3.5% of all cancer deaths can be partially attributed to alcohol.

Obesity is a little harder to tackle than the processed meats and alcohol risks, as there are multiple causes of it. The obesity epidemic is on the rise today due to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy food habits. As far as possible, try having lightly cooked, homemade meals over fare from restaurants and eateries so you will be able to monitor and control the amount of fat and oils that go into making it. Steer clear of processed food such as chips, sweets and biscuits as well, choosing to snack on fruits, nuts and seeds instead. Try eating five small meals a day as compared to three large ones as your metabolism will work faster to break down food and excess fats. Pair a good diet with an hour’s worth of exercise each day to keep obesity away.

Of course, these are just general tips to battle the bulge. Each individual has a unique body type and lifestyle; a visit to a nutritionist wil show you how exactly to adapt your diet so that you’re eating as healthily as possible for your body type. Additionally, stay tuned for our guide to fighting obesity – coming soon!

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