Preventing gastric cancer

by | September 18, 2012

Q. How can your diet help to prevent gastric cancer?


A. Data from numerous studies have shown that our diet plays an important role in the development of gastric cancer. However, there are no specific foods that can cause or cure gastric cancer.

Many studies have shown that a high salt diet is associated with an increased risk of gastric cancer. A high salt concentration in the stomach can damage the mucosal barrier of the stomach and leads to inflammation. Therefore, dietary modifications to reduce sodium intake may be protective against gastric cancer. Most of the sodium in our diet comes from processed foods such as canned, pickled items, sauces, fast-food and ready-to-eat meals. Try to limit these foods and read food labels to learn how much sodium is in a product. It is advisable to limit your salt intake to a maximum of 2,300mg per day.

A high intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a decrease risk of stomach cancer. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of some functional components in foods such as carotenoids, phytochemical, and vitamins A, C and E. These components may protect our stomach cells against cancer as they are powerful antioxidants. A scientific study in 2008 showed that the consumption of fruits and vegetables decrease the risk of developing gastric cancer by 15 percent and six percent respectively. It is recommended therefore that we take at least two servings of fruits and two servings of vegetables daily. One serve of fruit, for example, is equivalent to one small apple or a wedge of watermelon and a serve of vegetables is equivalent to three-quarter cup (100g) of cooked vegetables.

Being overweight or obese is also associated with an increased risk for gastric cancer of at least 1.5 times. Therefore, it is important to decrease the intake of foods with added sugar and oils as these can lead to excessive weight gain.  Furthermore, these foods are calorie-dense but poor in nutrients that are essential for good health.

It is necessary to keep in mind that there are no particular foods that can provide all the nutrients you need. Therefore, you should include a wide variety of foods in your diet. The Health Promotion Board’s Healthy Diet Pyramid is a good guide in helping you choose foods that provide a balanced diet. This will not only help in preventing the risk of gastric cancer but also keeps you healthy. – Esther Lin, dietitian, Dietetics Department, National University Hospital


(* PHOTO CREDITS: salt shaker, contracox, stock.xchng and fruit basket, michaelaw, stock.xchng – featured image)



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