Preventing Stomach Cancer With Diet and Nutrition

November 5th, 2013 by Dr. Keith Nemec

Stomach cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the world, with more than 900,000 new cases being diagnosed every year. Stomach cancer, sometimes referred to as gastric cancer, is particularly prevalent in highly industrialized countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, South America and Japan. While the rate of new diagnoses has held steady over the last few decades, stomach cancer remains one of the most difficult cancers to treat successfully. Because the cancer compromises the stomach and digestive tract, it is difficult for patients to obtain the nutrients they need to fight off the disease. Even more than most diseases, where stomach cancer is concerned prevention is the key.

Common Risk Factors for Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer tends to affect men more often than women, however the risk for developing the disease increases for both sexes once they pass the age of 55. Genetics may play a small role, with research indicating that at least 3% of stomach cancer cases occur in people with a family history of the disease. People with a history of chronic gastritis and/or stomach ulcers also seem to be at a higher risk for stomach cancer. But the major risk factors for developing gastric cancer appear to be lifestyle and diet. Smoking is a major contributing factor to the disease, as is the regular abuse of alcohol. Certain foods have been associated with a heighten risk for stomach cancer, including processed meats and foods that are high in salt and sugar along with high tea consumption. Obviously, diet and lifestyle play a large part in increasing or decreasing a person’s risk for developing any disease. Fortunately, there are some key dietary changes that can be made to help reduce the risk for stomach cancer.

Limiting Protein

Most Western diets are rich in protein, and while protein is definitely important to good nutrition you can have too much of a good thing. The human body relies on an enzyme called pancreatin to digest proteins. However, pancreatin enzymes also have another important function, protecting the body from cancer. A high protein diet forces the pancreatin enzymes to spend all of their time and energy with the digestive processes, keeping them from the major task of fighting off cancer. Limiting the daily amount of protein in the diet will allow the pancreatin enzymes to concentrate on protecting the body from stomach cancer.

Add Foods Rich in Quercetin

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that has powerful cancer fighting properties. It also has significant anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Foods rich in quercetin should be a large part of a healthy vegetarian based diet. These foods include red and yellow onions, broccoli, capers, and many different types of berries. Recent studies have indicated that including half of a raw red onion in the daily diet can reduce the risks of stomach cancer by as much as 50%.

Stick to Low Glycemic Foods

Foods with a high glycemic index are quickly broken down by the digestive system, causing blood sugar levels to spike and leading to an over production of insulin. Increased insulin levels have been linked to the growth and proliferation of cancerous tumors. Recent research is also finding a link between an abundance of insulin and the spread of cancers from one organ to another. Foods with a low glycemic index are more slowly digested, helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and eliminating sudden spikes in insulin production. Add foods with a glycemic index of 50 or below to your diet to help reduce the risk of stomach cancer. If you have a health challenge only eat foods with a glycemic index of 25 or less. Foods with a healthy low glycemic index include green vegetables, seeds, nuts, avocados, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes and cabbage.

Add Foods Rich in Beta-Glucans

Foods rich in beta-glucans should be a large part of any diet designed to prevent stomach cancer. Beta-Glucans are naturally occurring polysaccharides that have been proven to fight stomach cancer by directing immune cells into cancerous areas where they actively kill off cancer cells. A food group that is rich in beta-glucans is organic mushrooms. Beta-Glucans also help to support heart health and fight infections.

Adding these foods and limiting protein is part of any alternative cancer treatment focusing on the cause and not the effect.

Stomach cancer is one of the most virulent, and life threatening, cancers affecting the world today. As the fourth most common cancer in the world, it shows no signs of abating any time soon. Therefore, prevention is the key. By making certain lifestyle and dietary changes you can greatly reduce your risk for this all too common cancer.

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