Salt Intake and Stomach Cancer in Young U.S. Adults

An interesting article appeared in last Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. It reported a National Cancer Institute surveillance program which covered a large segment of the American population (about 25% of us) and reviewed over 39,000 cases of stomach cancer. The rates of new cases of this frequently fatal disease declined in almost all age groups except for while adults age 25 to 39 where it climbed almost 70%.

Now this could be just a statistical issue and the overall rates were still quite low (1 in 200,000). But, on the other hand, the one major association found was to diets, especially those high in salt and foods preserved with salt and low in fresh fruits and vegetables.

The study was looking at cancer in the "lower stomach," sometimes felt to be caused by chronic infections with H. Pylori, the same bacteria that's associated with ulcers. This is as opposed to disease in the cancer in the "upper stomach" associated with reflux disease.

Most other adults in the age range studied (25 to 80) had a clearcut decrease in rates of developing stomach cancer and black adults shared in this decrease. The authors noted that historically the incidence of this form of cancer has been higher in parts of the world where foods are often preserved with salt. Those rates have declined in many countries along with decreased rates of H. Pylori infection and the overall decrease in U.S. rates was certainly not unexpected.

We're left with an actual increase in one group. It will be further investigated, but the authors noted that salt intake has been going up in Americans in general and wondered if altered eating patterns were the culprit in the young adults in the study.

Hmm.. I've written before about our excess salt intake (for some of us it's more than twice what is recommended)  and suggested we could lower high blood pressure incidence with all of its potential for devastating consequences if we were to cut down on the salt, both by adding less and by eating less of those prepared foods that are high in sodium content.

Now we have one more reason to spurn the salt shaker and shop wisely for more fresh fruits and vegetables.

4 Responses to “Salt Intake and Stomach Cancer in Young U.S. Adults”

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