MAYWOOD, ILLINOIS. Stomach cancer is now the second most common cancer in the world after non- melanoma skin cancer. A diet rich in salted, pickled or smoked food is associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer as is a low level of stomach acid (hypochlorhydria). Hypochlorhydria can be caused by the long-term use of ulcer drugs such as cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac) and omeprazole (Losec). It can lead to bacterial overgrowth in which nitrate-reducing bacteria promote the conversion of harmless nitrates to carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds. Infection with the Helicobacter pylori bacterium causes inflammatory cells to produce reactive oxygen metabolites that may damage DNA and cause a chronic inflammation leading to stomach cancer. It is estimated that almost 80 per cent of all stomach cancer patients have a H pylori infection. It also seems that people with blood type A are more prone to develop stomach cancer.
Researchers at the Loyola University of Chicago now report that vitamin C may play a vital role in preventing
stomach cancer. They believe that vitamin C decreases the risk of H pylori-induced cancer by preventing
the formation of N-nitroso compounds in the stomach and by limiting free radical damage to the stomach
lining. Researchers at the University of Leeds (UK) found that supplementation with 500 mg of vitamin C
twice daily for two weeks markedly increased the concentration of ascorbic acid in stomach tissue, blood
plasma, and gastric juice. They conclude that vitamin C supplementation may be an important factor, along
with H pylori eradication, in preventing stomach cancer.