Diet and Carcinogenesis of Gastric Cancer

Gautam Maddineni; Jesse J. Xie; Bhaumik Brahmbhatt; Pritesh Mutha


Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2022;38(6):588-591. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Purpose of Review: Several recent studies have corroborated a strong association between diet and gastric cancer risk; investigators have also identified dietary factors that protect against gastric cancer. This review summarizes the literature on this topic and guides future research directions.

Recent Findings: High-salt intake disrupts the gastric mucosal defense barrier, promoting Helicobacter pylori colonization and penetration of other carcinogenic compounds. Processed foods, processed meats, red meat, alcohol, foods with high dietary fat, and dietary cholesterol increase the risk of gastric carcinogenesis. On the other hand, increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and a low-salt diet may offer a protective effect.

Summary: Despite decreases in gastric cancer incidence because of increased identification and treatment of H. pylori, gastric cancer remains one of the most common cancers worldwide with a high mortality rate. This disturbing statistic highlights the importance of reducing and eliminating other risk factors for gastric cancer. There is a strong body of evidence that alcohol, processed foods, high salt intake, high fat intake, and foods with animal products (meats, eggs, and dairy) increase the risk of gastric cancer. A diet that is high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and is low in salt may reduce the risk of gastric cancer.


Helicobacter pylori is the single most important risk factor for the development of gastric adenocarcinoma, accounting for 80–90% of distal adenocarcinoma.[1] The prevention and treatment of H. pylori has led to a significant decline in gastric cancer incidence. Despite this steady decline, gastric cancer remains the fifth leading cancer and the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.[1] These findings highlight the importance of reducing and eliminating other risk factors for gastric cancer. Other gastric cancer risk factors include tobacco, alcohol, obesity, and diet. Diet is a significant but under-recognized risk factor for gastric cancer. In this review, we summarize recent publications on dietary gastric cancer risk factors as well as dietary protective factors.