For many years it has been known that there is a relationship between eating too much salt long term and an increased risk of gastric cancer. The bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is the major risk factor for stomach cancer, causing 1 in 3 stomach cancers. It can lead to inflammation and gastric ulcers which can progress into stomach cancer, and salt has been found to increase the action of H. pylori.
Symptoms of stomach cancer may include indigestion, lack of appetite, a feeling of fullness, bleeding, blood in the stools, blood clots, pain and/or sickness.
Who is at risk of stomach cancer?
Men are nearly twice as likely to get stomach cancer than women. Stomach cancer is most common in the over 75s with around half of all stomach cancers being in those over this age. People in the most deprived social groups are also at a greater risk. Not all cases involve an infection with H. pylori, however those who have the infection are at a greater risk of stomach cancer.
The majority of the salt consumed in the UK comes from processed foods rather than through cooking or at the table. People with, or considered at risk, of stomach cancer should take special care when shopping to ensure that they buy low salt versions of their favourite foods. This can be done by looking at product labels in store. Foods such as cured meat, bread, cheese and table sauces should be eaten in moderation, and no salt should be added during cooking or at the table.