Excessive table salt linked to a higher risk of stomach cancer

While the federally recommended daily sodium consumption is 2,300 mg, Americans consume an average of over 3,400 mg daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

table salt linked to stomach cancer symptoms
Adding too much table salt to food could increase the risk of stomach cancer, a study found. (Photo Credit: Adobe Stock)

Consuming excessive salt in your diet could increase your vulnerability to a particular form of cancer.

According to People magazine, research published in the journal Gastric Cancer examined data from over 500,000 citizens of the United Kingdom — omitting those who had renal or cancer-related conditions already — and discovered that adding table salt to meals can raise a person’s risk of stomach cancer by 41%.

“While our study based on a large cohort suggests that always adding salt to food at [the] table is also associated with a higher risk of gastric cancer in Western populations, it has several limitations,” the study noted. “Case numbers in our study were not sufficient to evaluate the influence of potential modifiers such as sex, age, ethnicity, H. pylori infection, or smoking status.”

However, it added, “individuals who add more salt are also more likely to consume foods with higher sodium content; thus, and given that dietary salt intake is prone to measurement error, true associations between salt intake and gastric cancer risk could be stronger than those observed in this study.” 

The National Cancer Institute lists stomach cancer as the fifth most common cancer worldwide, with higher incidence rates in East Asian, Eastern European, and South and Central American nations compared to the U.S. and other Western countries.

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“Eating a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables or that is high in salted, smoked, or poorly preserved foods may increase the risk of stomach cancer,” the organization said.

While the federally recommended daily sodium consumption is 2,300 milligrams, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Americans consume an average of over 3,400 mg daily.

A recent report predicts 2 million cancer diagnoses in the U.S. this year — the highest to date.

According to the Mayo Clinic, early-stage stomach cancer is not always symptomatic, but indigestion and upper abdominal pain are indications. Symptoms of stomach cancer in its later stages include extreme fatigue, spontaneous weight loss, vomiting blood, and dark stools.

Black men face a significantly higher risk of stomach cancer, being 1.8 times more likely to develop the disease compared to non-Hispanic white men, with a mortality rate 2.5 times higher, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. Additionally, Black men generally exhibit lower five-year survival rates across various cancer types. Similarly, Black women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with stomach cancer and face a mortality rate 2.3 times higher than non-Hispanic white women.

The National Cancer Institute says that individuals more susceptible to stomach cancer can undergo an endoscopy to screen for the illness. However, the condition is rarely diagnosed in its early stages, often leading to poorer outcomes. “At advanced stages, stomach cancer can be treated but is rarely cured,” the organization added, People reported.