High-salt diet is linked to higher stomach cancer risk

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A recent study from MedUni Vienna has highlighted a significant health concern linking high salt consumption to an increased risk of stomach cancer, not just in Asian countries known for their salty diets but now also in Europe.

Published in the journal Gastric Cancer, the findings suggest that Europeans who frequently add extra salt to their meals are about 40% more likely to develop stomach cancer compared to those who seldom reach for the salt shaker.

The research analyzed data from over 470,000 adults participating in the “UK-Biobank,” a large-scale British cohort study. Participants were asked between 2006 and 2010 how often they added salt to their food, among other dietary habits.

The team, led by Selma Kronsteiner-Gicevic and Tilman Kühn at MedUni Vienna’s Center for Public Health, then cross-referenced these self-reported habits with urine salt excretion levels and national cancer registry data to track incidences of stomach cancer.

Over the 11-year observation period, the study found that individuals who reported always or frequently adding salt to their dishes were 39% more likely to develop stomach cancer than those who never or rarely added salt.

These results held true even when adjusting for various demographic, socioeconomic, and lifestyle factors, as well as other health conditions, according to Kronsteiner-Gicevic.

Stomach cancer, currently the fifth most common cancer worldwide, is traditionally associated with older age groups. However, recent statistics indicate a troubling rise in cases among adults under the age of 50.

Known risk factors for this type of cancer include smoking, alcohol use, Helicobacter pylori infection, and being overweight or obese.

The study’s findings are significant as they confirm that the dangers of excessive salt intake, already established in Asian populations who often consume salt-preserved foods and high-salt condiments, are equally pertinent in Western contexts.

This research aims to heighten public awareness about the harmful impacts of high salt consumption and serves as a foundation for preventive measures against stomach cancer.

By showing the direct impact of salt addition on cancer risk in a Western population, the research underscores the global relevance of dietary salt reduction as a preventive health measure.

As Kronsteiner-Gicevic puts it, the study is a call to action to curb excessive salt intake to mitigate the risk of stomach cancer, affirming the need for dietary adjustments across different cultures and dietary traditions.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about the link between dairy food and certain cancers and this common food chemicals may cause cancer.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about How to harness the power of anti-cancer foods and supplements and results showing that Empower your plate: cancer-fighting foods and recipes.

The research findings can be found in Gastric Cancer.

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