Tobacco and Stomach Cancer
- Key facts about tobacco use and stomach cancer
- What is stomach cancer?
- How does tobacco use increase the risk of stomach cancer?
- How does quitting reduce the risk of stomach cancer?
- Health benefits of quitting tobacco use at any age
- Call for free help to quit
Key facts about tobacco use and stomach cancer
- Someone who smokes is more likely to develop stomach cancer than someone who does not smoke.Footnote 4
- The risk of stomach cancer increases with the number of years smoked, the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and the age at smoking initiation.Footnote 1Footnote 4
- Approximately 20% of stomach cancer cases were due to smoking in 2015.Footnote 3
- In 2021, it was estimated there would be 4,000 new cases of stomach cancer in Canada, and 1,950 stomach cancer deaths.Footnote 5
- In Canada, 71% of people diagnosed with stomach cancer are predicted to die within five years, according to 2015-2017 data.Footnote 5
What is stomach cancer?
Stomach or gastric cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the stomach lining, leading to the formation of a tumour.
The stomach lining is made of five layers. Stomach cancer starts in the inner layer of the stomach called the mucosa and can spread to outer layers as the cancer grows. Once the cancer spreads through all the layers of the stomach and to other organs, the chances of recovery decrease.Footnote 6
Early symptoms of stomach cancer include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. In more advanced stages of stomach cancer, symptoms include vomiting blood, blood in the stool, and unexplained weight loss.Footnote 7
Treatments for stomach cancer include surgery to remove part or all of the stomach, radiation, or chemotherapy, depending on the severity and location of the cancer.Footnote 6
How does tobacco use increase the risk of stomach cancer?
Some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause genetic changes in the cells of the stomach lining. This can lead to the development of stomach cancer.Footnote 1
Tobacco smoke and nicotine can play a role in the formation of ulcers (open sores) that damage the stomach lining.Footnote 1 Ulcers increase the risk of genetic changes in the cells, which can cause stomach cancer.Footnote 8 The seriousness of stomach ulcers depends on the amount of cigarettes smoked.Footnote 1
How does quitting reduce the risk of stomach cancer?
Quitting smoking reduces the risk of stomach cancer.Footnote 9Footnote 10 This risk decreases with the number of years since quitting.Footnote 2 Ten years after quitting, the risk of stomach cancer is similar to someone who has never smoked.Footnote 2
Quitting is one of the best ways to avoid the development of stomach cancer and other tobacco-related diseases.Footnote 9
If someone who smokes has stomach cancer, quitting can improve their chances of recovery.Footnote 11
Continuing to smoke after a cancer diagnosis can lower chances of survival and increase the risk for second primary cancers caused by tobacco smoke, such as lung cancer.Footnote 11
Health benefits of quitting tobacco use at any age
Quitting tobacco use reduces the risk of premature death, improves health, and enhances quality of life.Footnote 9 Quitting at any age is beneficial to one's health.Footnote 9 Even people who have smoked or used tobacco heavily for many years benefit from it.Footnote 1Footnote 9 Quitting is the most important thing someone who smokes can do to improve their health.
Read more about the benefits of quitting smoking.
Call for free help to quit
Call the toll-free pan-Canadian quit line at 1-866-366-3667. Quit line counselling, alone or in combination with cessation medication, increases success in quitting.Footnote 9
- Footnote 1
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2004.
- Footnote 2
Praud D, Rota M, Pelucchi C, Bertuccio P, Rosso T, Galeone C, Zhang ZF et al. Cigarette smoking and gastric cancer in the Stomach Cancer Pooling (StoP) Project. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2018 Mar;27(2):124-133. doi: 10.1097/CEJ.0000000000000290. PMID: 27560662.
- Footnote 3
Poirier AE, Ruan Y, Grevers X, Walter SD, Villeneuve PJ, Friedenreich CM, Brenner DR; ComPARe Study Team. Estimates of the current and future burden of cancer attributable to active and passive tobacco smoking in Canada. Prev Med. 2019 May;122:9-19. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.03.015. PMID: 31078177.
- Footnote 4
IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Tobacco Smoke and Involuntary Smoking. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, No. 83. International Agency of Research on Cancer, Lyon, France, 2004.
- Footnote 5
Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2021. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society: 2021. http://cancer.ca/Canadian-Cancer-Statistics-2021-EN
- Footnote 6
PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Gastric Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute (US); 2002 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK65889/
- Footnote 7
Smyth EC, Nilsson M, Grabsch HI, van Grieken NC, Lordick F. Gastric cancer. The Lancet. 2020 Aug 29;396(10251):635-48.
- Footnote 8
Li LF, Chan RL, Lu L, Shen J, Zhang L, Wu WK, Wang L, Hu T, Li MX, Cho CH. Cigarette smoking and gastrointestinal diseases: the causal relationship and underlying molecular mechanisms. International journal of molecular medicine. 2014 Aug 1;34(2):372-80.
- Footnote 9
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2020.
- Footnote 10
Gandini S, Botteri E, Iodice S, Boniol M, Lowenfels AB, Maisonneuve P, Boyle P. Tobacco smoking and cancer: a meta-analysis. Int J Cancer. 2008 Jan 1;122(1):155-64. doi: 10.1002/ijc.23033. PMID: 17893872.
- Footnote 11
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2014.
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