Chronic and heavy alcohol use leads to gut inflammation, which increases the risk of stomach cancer.

Stomach cancer, a serious condition characterized by the growth of malignant cells in the stomach lining, contributes to thousands of deaths each year.

In the United States, it represents about 1.5% of all newly diagnosed cancers annually.

Alcohol consumption, particularly moderate or heavy use, leads to gut inflammation, which contributes to the risk of stomach cancer as well as other types of cancer and diseases.

Language matters

You’ll notice that the language used to share stats and other data points is pretty binary, fluctuating between the use of “men” and “women” as well as the use of “female.”

Although we typically avoid language like this, specificity is key when reporting on research participants and clinical findings.

Unfortunately, the studies and surveys referenced in this article didn’t report data on, or include, participants who were transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or genderless.

Was this helpful?

Yes, alcohol consumption is considered a potential risk factor for stomach cancer, medically known as gastric cancer.

Evidence suggests that chronic and heavy alcohol consumption can irritate the lining of your stomach, leading to inflammation and damage to the cells. Over time, this chronic irritation and inflammation may increase your risk of developing stomach cancer.

A review of 10 studies found that alcohol consumption increased the risk of stomach cancer, with an odds ratio of 1.39. This means that individuals who consume alcohol have a 39% higher risk of developing stomach cancer compared with those who don’t drink.

The analysis showed that both moderate and heavy drinking were associated with a higher risk of stomach cancer, and only one study from Sweden didn’t support this finding. Overall, the results suggest that lowering alcohol consumption could potentially lower the risk of stomach cancer.

In addition to alcohol consumption, several other factors are known to increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.

These include:

  • Helicobacter pylori infection: This bacterium, which grows in the mucus layer coating on the inside of the human stomach, is a major risk factor for stomach cancer. Research shows that people who have chronic H. pylori infections have an increased risk of developing stomach cancer.
  • Tobacco smoking: Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products increases your risk of stomach cancer, particularly for cancers of the upper part of the stomach near the esophagus.
  • Diet: Certain dietary factors, such as a diet high in salty and smoked foods and pickled vegetables, can increase your risk of stomach cancer. On the other hand, a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables may help lower your risk.
  • Family history: Research shows that those with a family history of stomach cancer face an increased risk of developing the disease. Factors such as having or previously having an H. pylori infection, having two or more first degree relatives with gastric cancer, and being female contribute to this heightened risk.
  • Previous stomach surgery: Individuals who’ve had certain types of stomach surgeries, such as the removal of part of the stomach or gastric bypass surgery, may have an increased risk of developing stomach cancer.
  • Pernicious anemia: Pernicious anemia has been linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer. This is a condition characterized by a lack of vitamin B12 absorption, often caused by an autoimmune reaction.
  • Age and gender: Stomach cancer is more common in older adults, with the risk increasing significantly after the age of 50. Men have a higher incidence of stomach cancer compared with women.

Alcohol consumption is a known risk factor for several other types of cancer and diseases.

Research shows that the gastrointestinal tract, which is your body’s first point of contact with ingested substances, is vulnerable to damage from toxins.

Chronic and heavy alcohol consumption initiates gut inflammation, which spreads throughout your body and contributes to multiple organ dysfunctions and chronic disorders associated with alcohol consumption.

Excessive and chronic alcohol intake has been associated with an increased risk of the following cancers:

  • liver cancer
  • esophageal cancer
  • colon and rectal cancers
  • breast cancer
  • cancers of the mouth, throat, and voice box

It’s important to seek medical care if you’re experiencing any persistent or concerning symptoms that may be indicative of stomach cancer or any other serious condition.

Some general symptoms of stomach cancer may include:

  • persistent abdominal discomfort or pain
  • persistent indigestion or heartburn
  • unexplained weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • difficulty swallowing
  • fatigue and weakness

Heavy and chronic alcohol consumption have been consistently associated with an increased risk of developing stomach cancer. This is caused by irritation and damage to the stomach lining, leading to inflammation and potential DNA damage.

While individual susceptibility to alcohol-related stomach cancer may vary, it’s important to exercise caution regarding alcohol consumption. Minimizing your alcohol use can potentially lower your risk of developing stomach cancer and other alcohol-related health conditions.