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Vitamin C protects against stomach cancer

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.
Feiz, Hamid Reza and Mobarhan, Sohrab. Does vitamin C intake slow the progression of gastric cancer in Helicobacter pylori-infected populations? Nutrition Review, Vol. 60, January 2002, pp. 34-36

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