Last year, World Health Organization announced that processed meats pose a threat of cancer and advised people to limit their intake.
Now, a recent review conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund reports an association between processed meats, alcohol and stomach cancer risk for the very first time.
‘Eating processed meat, drinking alcohol and being overweight can increase the risk of stomach cancer.’
For the report, researchers combined and analyzed all scientific data available on stomach cancer, diet, physical activity and weight. The analysis included 89 studies covering 17.5 million adults, including 77,000 with stomach cancer.
Highlights of the study
- Drinking more than three alcoholic beverages every day raises stomach cancer risk
- For every 50g of processed meat consumed, the risk of stomach cancer increases by 18%
- Every five-unit increase in body mass index (BMI) causes a 23% increased risk of cancer in the upper stomach
Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer worldwide and the third most common cause of death by cancer. Men are twice as likely as women to develop stomach cancer, and it is more common in older adults.
The team also analyzed which factors increased the risk of cancers of the upper stomach and the lower stomach. Obesity was the primary risk factor for cancers in the upper stomach, as the excess weight causes acid reflux that irritates the lining of the upper stomach and esophagus.
Processed meats are rich in preservatives such as nitrates and salt, which are already linked to cancer risk. While alcohol may act as a solvent that helps carcinogens get into a person's cell. Thus, researchers concluded that processed meats and alcohol can increase lower stomach cancer risk while obesity increases upper stomach cancer risk.