Stomach cancer

Our analysis of worldwide research on stomach cancer

As part of the Continuous Update Project (CUP) – our ongoing programme to analyse global research on how diet, nutrition, physical activity and weight affect cancer risk and survival – we have analysed worldwide research to produce our report on stomach cancer.

Published in April 2016, the report is the most rigorous, systematic, global analysis of the scientific research currently available on diet, weight, physical activity and stomach cancer, and which of these factors increase or decrease the risk of developing the disease.

For the report, the global scientific research on diet, nutrition, physical activity and stomach cancer was gathered and analysed by a research team at Imperial College London, and then independently assessed by a panel of leading international scientists.

The report reviewed evidence from 89 studies from around the world. The studies examined around 17.5 million adults and nearly 77,000 cases of stomach cancer.

The report updates the stomach cancer section of our 2007 Second Expert Report.

Key Findings

Strong evidence

  • There is strong evidence that consuming approximately three or more alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of stomach cancer.
  • There is strong evidence that consuming foods preserved by salting increases the risk of stomach cancer. Research mainly relates to high-salt foods and salt-preserved foods, including pickled vegetables and salted or dried fish, as traditionally prepared in east Asia.
  • There is strong evidence that consuming processed meat increases the risk of stomach non-cardia cancer.
  • There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of stomach cardia cancer. Being overweight or obese was assessed by body mass index (BMI).

These findings have all changed since the last time we reviewed the worldwide evidence on the link between diet, nutrition, physical activity, weight and stomach cancer (for our 2007 Second Expert Report).

  • The findings on alcohol and being overweight and obese are new.
  • The finding on processed meat has been upgraded to strong evidence, and is now specific to stomach non-cardia cancer.
  • The finding on foods preserved by salting updates the previous finding on salt and salted and salty foods, as the evidence is now more specific. The evidence linking added salt as a cause of stomach cancer has changed and become less strong. This is partly because it is so difficult to measure salt consumption.

CUP stomach cancer short matrix

Read our blogs on salt and stomach cancer subtypes.


To reduce the risk of developing stomach cancer, follow our Cancer Prevention Recommendations. Our ten Cancer Prevention Recommendations are for preventing cancer in general, and include maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, eating a healthy diet and limiting alcohol consumption (if consumed at all).

A more detailed overview of the findings is provided in the Executive Summary of the report.