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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Dawn Handschuh

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), the healthiest diets emphasize whole plant foods over animal products. Most importantly, the AICR recommends people be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight, eat mostly foods of plant origin (that’s whole grains, fruits and vegetables), and limit alcoholic drinks.

Cancers of the stomach and other organs in the digestive tract (mouth, throat, liver, and colon) have been tied to alcohol use. High salt intake has also been associated with higher stomach cancer risk.

In one study of stomach health and consumption of antioxidants, scientists looked at 500,000 individuals who consumed a range of plant foods containing antioxidants. Researchers concluded that dietary antioxidant consumption (not supplements) was associated with lower risk of stomach cancer.

Taking antioxidant pills not only did not seem to help, but appeared to increase overall mortality.  Why? Because consuming high doses of isolated vitamins may cause disturbances in the body’s natural antioxidant network. It’s important to remember that antioxidants work together synergistically, in combination with one another, not in isolation.

As we age, our immune function tends to decline, and our risk of cancer rises. Some theorize that cancer could be considered an autoimmune disease. Cancers tend to thrive in a setting of low-level inflammation, and stomach inflammation can lead to stomach cancer. Inflammation is the body’s immune response, but it can also stimulate angiogenesis—deliver blood to the tumor, and help it grow.

 

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