Drinking Alcohol and Stomach Cancer Risk

Are drinking alcohol and stomach cancer risk connected? Not if drinking is in moderation. The moderate consumption of alcohol is not a risk factor for developing stomach or gastric cancer.

This is the conclusion of the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Research UK, the Mayo Clinic, and other medical organizations.

Stomach Cancer

Over 10,000 people die each year in the U.S. from stomach or gastric cancer. The cause of most stomach cancer appears to be infection from Helicobacter pylori (H pylori). There is strong evidence that alcohol consumption fights H pylori infection. (1) However, most people who have this germ in their stomachs never develop cancer.

alcohol and stomach cancerIn addition to H pylori infection, there are a number of risk factors associated with gastric cancer. Having risk factors increases the chances of developing cancer, but many victims have no risk factors. And having many risk factors doesn’t mean that a person will get the disease.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for developing stomach cancer include these.

  • Being an Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic-American or African-American.
  • Being male.
  • Eating large amounts of cured meats, smoked foods. salted fish, or pickled vegetables.
  • Epstein-Barr virus infection (mono or infectious mononucleosis).
  • Family history of stomach cancer.
  • Living in China, Japan, southern and eastern Europe, and Central and South America.
  • Menetrier disease (hypertrophic gastropathy).
  • Mucosa- associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma. (Infection with H pylori also causes MALT of the stomach.)
  • Older age (late 60′ and older).
  • Pernicious anemia.
  • Smoking tobacco (doubles the risk of stomach cancer).
  • Some types of stomach polyps.
  • Stomach surgery.
  • Type A blood.
  • Working in the coal, metal, or rubber industry.


These are possible symptoms of stomach cancer.

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Constipation
  • Dark Stools.
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing, especially if that difficulty increases over time.
  • Excessive belching.
  • General decline in health.
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Premature abdominal fullness after eating.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Vague abdominal fullness
  • Vomiting blood.
  • Weakness or fatigue

A person experiencing any of these symptoms should consult a physician.

alcohol and stomach cancer

Drinking in Moderation

Drinking alcohol in moderation is not a risk factor for developing stomach cancer. On the other hand, the moderate consumption of alcohol causes better health. It also causes greater longevity than either abstaining from alcohol or drinking abusively.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has defined moderation. It’s a man consuming four drinks on any day and an average of 14 drinks per week. For women, it’s consuming three drinks in any one day and an average of seven drinks per week.

A standard alcoholic drink is:

  • One 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer
  • A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine
  • One shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof liquor or spirits such as vodka, tequila, rum, etc.  Either straight or in a mixed drink.

Standard drinks contain equivalent amounts of alcohol.

There is no evidence that any particular form of alcoholic beverage has greater health benefits than any other.


The moderate consumption of alcohol and stomach cancer risk are not associated.

Note: This website does not make health or medical recommendations regarding drinking alcohol and stomach cancer.

References for  Alcohol and Stomach Cancer

1. Stomach Cancer Risk Factors.  Alcohol and H. pylori InfectionStomach Cancer Risk FactorsGastric Cancer – Risk FactorsStomach Cancer – Risk FactorsRisk Factors for Stomach CancerStomach Cancer Risk FactorsRisk Factors for Stomach CancerStomach Cancer Risk Factors.

Popular Resources on Living With Cancer

Buratovich, M., and Jackson-Grusby, L. Cancer. Ipswich, MA: Salem, 2016.

Crocker, B. Betty Crocker Living with Cancer Cookbook. Hoboken: Wiley, 2014.

Gafni, R. Ramy Gafni’s Beauty Therapy: The Ultimate Guide to Looking and Feeling Great while Living with Cancer. NY: Evans, 2005.

Harrison, T. In-between Days. A Graphic Memoir about Living with Cancer. Toronto: Anansi, 2016.

Hurley, T. Living With Cancer. Argo-Navis, 2014.

Krychman, M. 100 Questions and Answers for Women Living with Cancer. A Practical Guide for Survivorship. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2007.

Lindenmuth, K., et al. Caring for the Caregivers. Living with Cancer. Libra Verde, 2014. DVD video.

McCauliffe, B. Cancer [living with]. Mankato, MN: Creative Ed, 2012. (Juvenile)

Slomski, G., and Reichek, J. Living with Cancer. Minneapolis: ABDO, 2012. (Juvenile)

Scholarly Readings on Alcohol and Stomach Cancer Risk

Barstad, T., et al. Intake of wine, beer and spirits and risk of gastric cancer. Euro J Can Prev, 2005, 14(3), 239-243.

Freedman, N.D., et al. Tobacco, alcohol, and the risk of gastric cancer. Am J Epid, 2007, 165(12), 1424-1433.

Lagergren, J., et al. The role of tobacco, snuff and alcohol use in the aetiology of cancer of the oesophagus and gastric cardia. Int J Can, 2000, 85(3), 340-346.

Larsson, S.C., et al. Alcoholic beverage consumption and gastric cancer risk. Int J Can, 2007, 120(2), 373-377.

Lucenteforte, E., et al. Food groups and alcoholic beverages and the risk of stomach cancer. Nutr Can, 2008, 60(5), 577-584.

Sasazuki, S., et al. Cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and subsequent gastric cancer risk. Int J Can, 2002, 101(6), 560-566.

Shimazu, T., et al. Alcohol drinking and gastric cancer risk. Jap J Clin Oncol, 2008, 38(1), 8-25.

Sjodahl, K., et al. Smoking and alcohol drinking in relation to risk of gastric cancer. Int J Can, 2007, 120(1), 128-132.

Steevens, J., et al. Alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking and risk of  gastric cancer. Gut, 2010, 59(1), 39-48.

Sung, N.Y., et al. Smoking, alcohol and gastric cancer risk. Brit J Can, 2007, 97(5), 700-704.

Tominaga, K., et al. Stomach cancer in relation to alcohol consumption. Jap J Can Res: Gann., 1991, 82(9), 974-998.

Yokoyama, A. Alcohol and risk of cancer in the stomach. Iryo, 2006, 60(6), 357-364.

Zaridze, D., et al. Alcohol consumption, smoking and risk of gastric cancer. Can Cause Cont, 2000, 11(4), 363-371.

Zhang, F., et al. Alcohol intake and the risk of stomach cancer. Int J Can, 2007, 121(9), 2060-2064.