In the UK, around 4,000 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer every year, and while it is a less common form of the disease there are many possible symptoms – and a new risk factor could soon be added to the list.
Also known as gastric cancer, stomach cancer occurs when cells in the stomach grow in an abnormal and uncontrolled way.
According to the NHS, you are more likely to develop stomach cancer if you:
are over the age of 50
are a man
have a long-term infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
have certain stomach conditions, such as long-term, severe acid reflux, gastritis or a condition called pernicious anaemia, which affects your immune system
have a family member who had stomach cancer
Recent research has revealed that a certain relationship status can also increase your risk of the disease.
The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University has found that single people are more likely to develop stomach cancer than those in relationships.
Researchers have described their evidence as strong, and that a relationship status should be considered as a metric to work out how long someone could live.
Professor Aman Xu of the study explained: “Married people tend to be better off financially. They may also receive emotional encouragement.
“Survival prospects were better among women than among men and among people who were married,” added Professor Xu.
The results were determined after the researchers analysed 3,647 cases in the United States where the tumour hadn’t spread to other organs.
However, the scientists claim they don’t know why single people face a higher risk.
It is suggested that people in relationships have better lifestyle habits than single individuals who may have a higher alcohol consumption.
More research is required to confirm this theory.
What are the symptoms of stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer can affect different parts of the body’s digestion.
Early signs of the disease are:
• Heartburn or acid reflux
• Feeling or being sick
• Symptoms of indigestion
• Feeling full very quickly when eating
• Loss of appetite
• Losing weight without trying to
• A lump at the top of the abdomen
• Pain at the top of the tummy
• Feeling tired or having no energy.
The presence of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean someone definitely has cancer.
However, if you are concerned, contact your GP for advice.
The sooner cancer is diagnosed, the more efficiently it can be treated.