About 50% of the stomachs in the world are infected with Helicobacter pylori, which is unmistakably associated with peptic ulcers and stomach cancer. It is believed that having a long term H. pylori stomach infection causes stomach lining changes.
The theory is chronic H. pylori infection inflammation destroys acid producing glands, resulting in low stomach acid levels, an ulcer and/or other gastric problems. In turn, this low acidic environment prevents cancer causing toxins from being broken down or flushed out. A situation that is ripe for cancer to develop in your stomach.
An ulcer doesn’t put you at a higher risk of stomach (gastric) cancer, but having H. pylori infection does. Perhaps the most prevalent cause of gastric cancer is controllable pylori bacteria infection.
Some other controllable and uncontrollable risk factors for stomach cancer include:
- tobacco use
- male over 65
- type A blood
- alcohol abuse
- stomach polyps
- pernicious anemia
- stomach inflammation
- Epstein-Barr virus infection
- stomach cancer family history
- high temperature meat cooking
- certain occupations ~ coal, metal & rubber industries
- nitrates, nitrites ~ cured meats like ham, bacon, hot dogs, deli meats
Late stage stomach cancer is difficult to treat and early symptoms are difficult to pin down. Examples of early cancer of the stomach symptoms are:
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain
- intestinal bleeding
- stomach discomfort
- feeling bloated and full
As cancer of the stomach progresses, more intense symptoms emerge, such as:
- bloody stool
- feeling tired
- vomiting blood
- trouble swallowing
- vomiting after meals
- weakness and fatigue
- after meal stomach pain
- stools that are black, tarry
- unexplained, unintended weight loss
- food nor antacids relieve abdomen discomfort
- bloated, full feeling after eating small amounts
If you have any chronic stomach problems you need to have them checked out. The earlier the detection of cancer in your stomach, the better your chances are for treatment.
Surgery is the most common treatment for stomach cancer. Removal of part or all of your stomach is called a gastrectomy. A total gastrectomy means out with the cancer ridden stomach and in with a new “stomach” made of intestinal tissue.
Expected side effects you may experience after gastrectomy:
- tired, weak
- weight loss
- nausea & vomiting
- nutritional deficiencies
- dumping syndrome ~ food enters small intestine too quickly
Couple of these side effects are typically a result eating too much.
After any type of stomach surgery treatment, your post gastrectomy diet likely needs adjusting. Here are some dietary related measures that may help you transition to your new or partial stomach status:
- rest after meals
- eat slowly, chew fully
- avoid liquid with meals
- may need to avoid dairy
- eat small, frequent meals
- don’t lie flat 2-3 hours after meal
- no extremely hot, cold foods, liquids
- no sugar ~ aggravates dumping syndrome
- try softly cooked, puree fruits, vegetables
- cook rice, baked potatoes, soups, broth or fish without fat
Consume a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those loaded vitamin C and beta carotene. Studies show this healthy diet regime helps protect your stomach against cancer. Most often, stomach cancer is an adenocarcinoma type malignant tumor that develops in your mucosa, the innermost lining of a 5 layer hollow organ.
Pay your doctor a visit if you have any ulcer symptoms. Since one of the leading causes of stomach cancer is a gastric peptic ulcer brought on by H. pylori infection, don’t ignore your gnawing pain symptoms.