, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 75-83
Date: 25 Jun 2007

Diet and the risk of gastric cancer: review of epidemiological evidence


There are geographic and ethnic differences in the incidence of gastric cancer around the world as well as with its trends for each population over time. The incidence patterns observed among immigrants change according to where they live. All of these factors serve to indicate the close association of gastric cancer with modifiable factors such as diet. This review presents epidemiological evidence on the association between dietary factors and gastric cancer based on previous systematic reviews and subsequent updates. Infection with Helicobacter pylori is a strong and established risk factor of gastric cancer but is not a sufficient cause for its development. Substantial evidence from ecological, case-control, and cohort studies strongly suggests that the risk may be increased with a high intake of various traditional salt-preserved foods and salt per se and decreased with a high intake of fruit and vegetables, particularly fruit. However, it remains unclear which constituents in fruit and vegetables play a significant role in gastric cancer prevention. Among them, vitamin C is a plausible candidate supported by a relatively large body of epidemiological evidence. Consumption of green tea is possibly associated with a decreased risk of gastric cancer, although the protective effects have been, for the most part, identified in Japanese women, most of whom are nonsmokers. In contrast, processed meat and N-nitroso compounds may be positively associated with the risk of gastric cancer. In conclusion, dietary modification by reducing salt and salted food intake, as well as by increasing intake of fruit and vitamin C, represents a practical strategy to prevent gastric cancer.