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Stomach Cancer on the Rise Among Young, White Adults
Date:5/4/2010

nt per year," Rabkin said. "That may sound like a small number, but over a number of years that percentage can grow just like compound interest on a loan."

The primary cause of lower stomach cancer is the bacteria H. pylori. Changes in the infection patterns over the last 50 years might explain the increasing rates of stomach cancer among younger whites, the researchers noted.

In older whites, the drop in lower stomach cancer is consistent with declines in H. pylori infection. This decline in infection is due to improved hygiene and less crowding during childhood, when the infections are often acquired.

"We don't know why the rate of gastric cancer is rising in young whites," Rabkin said.

It could indicate a change in the age when they become infected or an increase in the prevalence of the infection, the researchers added. It is also possible that something else is causing the cancer brought on by the eradication of H. pylori.

Dietary factors, such as eating salt and salt-preserved foods, are also associated with noncardia gastric cancer. Smoking is another risk factor for upper and lower stomach cancers, the researchers noted.

Dr. Jaffer A. Ajani, an oncologist in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and co-author of an accompanying journal editorial, said that "this is a novel finding -- I don't think we need to be alarmed about this."

However, Ajani thinks the trend needs to be investigated. "One possibility is that these are Eastern Europeans, who have come to the United States. Eastern Europeans have gastric cancer in different places," he said.

The trend may be just a blip, which is already disappearing, Ajani said. "My personal opinion is that it is just among Eastern Europeans," he said.

"This probably needs further investigation," noted Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, strategic director f
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