Stomach Cancer – Symptoms, Risks and Prevention

Stomach Cancer – Symptoms, Risks and Prevention

Stomach cancer causes about 800,000 deaths worldwide per year, making it the second most common cause of cancer death worldwide after lung cancer.

Metastasis (spreading of the initial tumors to other parts of the body) occurs in 80-90% of individuals with stomach cancer, with a six month survival rate of 65% in those diagnosed in early stages and less than 15% of those diagnosed in late stages.

Other studies show that less than 5% of stomach cancers occur in people under 40 years of age.

Gastric cancer shows a male predominance in its incidence as up to three males are affected for every female. Estrogen may protect women against the development of this cancer form.

Possible signs of stomach cancer (please remember that these signs can show up in other conditions that are much less serious as well).

Early Stage Signs

Indegestion or a burning sensation (heartburn)
Loss of appetite, especially for meat
Later Stage Signs
Abdominal pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen
Nausea and vomiting
Diarrhea or constipation
Bloating of the stomach after meals
Weight loss
Weakness and fatigue
Bleeding (vomiting blood or having blood in the stool), which can lead to anemia
Dysphagia (the inability to swallow); this feature suggests a tumor in the cardia or extension of the gastric tumor in to the esophagus
To find the cause of symptoms, your physician will ask about the your medical history, do a physical exam, and may order laboratory studies. He/She may also order one or all of the following exams:
Gastroscopic exam is the diagnostic method of choice. This involves insertion of a fibre optic camera into the stomach
Upper GI series
Computed tomography or CT scanning of the abdomen can visualize gastric cancer, but is especially helpful to determine if metastasis has spread to nearby tissues or the lymph system
Causes of Stomach Cancer
Helicobacter pylori bacteria cause ulcers.

Infection by Helicobacter pylori (HP) is believed to be the cause of most stomach cancer. The HP results in inflammation of the stomach lining leading to its destruction, thus causing peptic ulcers and/or gastric cancer.


Preventing Stomach Cancer via Diet and Supplementation

I have reviewed many studies suggesting that H. pylori activity could be suppressed via dietary methods and supplement use. The following seem to have the most promise.

Broccoli Sprouts – A study that I recently read which was published in the journal of Cancer Prevention, 2009, found that 2.5 ounces daily broccoli sprouts eaten over a course of 2 months significantly reduced the number of HP colonies in both mice and humans by more than 40%. When the broccoli sprouts were discontinued the colonies returned to their previous levels.

Curcumin – Curcumin from Tumeric is both a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammator, both of which fight the effects of free radical generation and inflammation caused by infection with HP. Curcumin is one of my favorite supplements with multiple benefits. I would suggest 1000mg per day taken with 5mg of piperine to enhance absorption of the curcumin.

Probiotics – Another study published in the journal “Nutrition” in 2003 found that the probiotic lactobacillus both reduced the need for antibiotic treatment of HP and made the antibiotic treatment more effective as well.

Green Tea Extract – findings in the February 2008 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention indicated that the EGCG component of green tea extract decreased the risk of stomach cancer in women by 75% yet slightly increased the risk in men. I would recommend a 1500mg per day extract of green tea containing at least 20% EGCG for women. Though I suspect the men’s result was somehow misleading or misinterpreted or had other confounding variables, for the time being, men at risk for stomach cancer should probably avoid EGCG from green tea.

Vitamin C – Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people with higher levels of vitamin C intake had lower levels of HP and lower incidence of both gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. I would suggest 1000mg per day.

L-Glutamine – In the May 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reported results concluded that L-glutamine may prove beneficial in offsetting gastric damage caused by H. pylori infection. The research was conducted at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It is suggested that L-glutamine may serve as a natural alternative to the use of antibiotics which are commonly used for treating stomach ulcers and HP damage that leads to stomach cancer. I would recommend 2 grams per day of L-glutamine.

Zinc Carnosine – Recently published research demonstrated the 150mg of Zinc Carnosine complex twice per day, made antibiotics used to treat stomach ulcer and HP work significantly better.

My purpose in writing this article is to provide you with a basic understanding of this condition, what is believed to cause it, and what you can do to decrease your risk of it occurring.

This is not a comprehensive article on all of the information that is available to those readers who interested or concerned in or about stomach cancer. I wrote this to give you a basis of knowledge from which you can proceed to ask intelligent questions and identify areas that you may choose to explore in more detail.

Helping you to get well, stay well, and stay young and vibrant well into the later years of life!

Your anti-aging scientist, Curt Hendrix, M.S., CCN, CSN

For more information, please feel free to visit Curt’s blog at CurtHendrix.com.

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