Drinking and Stomach Cancer Risk: What You Need to Know about Alcohol and the Disease

Many people are concerned about alcohol drinking and stomach cancer. Does drinking alcohol cause stomach cancer? Will drinking increase the risk of getting the disease?

Fortunately, the moderate drinking of alcohol is not a risk factor for developing stomach or gastric cancer. Major medical organizations have made this conclusion after analyzing all the evidence. Among many others, they include these prestigious organization.

Risk Factor: H pylori

drinking and stomach cancer

H pylori

Over 10,000 people die each year in the U.S. from stomach or gastric cancer. It appears that the cause of most stomach cancer is 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.

In addition to H pylori infection, there are a number of risk factors associated with gastric cancer. Although having risk factors increases the chances of developing cancer, many victims have no risk factors.

Other Risk Factors

  • Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.
  • Male
  • Age (late 60s and older)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic-American or African-American.
  • Living in China, Japan, southern and eastern Europe, and Central and South America.
  • Cured meats, smoked foods, salted fish, or pickled vegetables in large quantities.
  • Smoking tobacco (doubles the risk of stomach cancer).
  • Stomach surgery
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Type A blood
  • Family history of stomach cancer.
  • Some types of stomach polyps.
  • Menetrier disease (hypertrophic gastropathy).
  • Epstein-Barr virus infection (mono or infectious mononucleosis).
  • Working in the coal, metal, or rubber industry.

Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

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

A person experiencing any of these symptoms should consult with a doctor.

Alcohol and Health

Most important, drinking alcohol in moderation is not a risk factor for developing stomach cancer. On the other hand, moderate drinkers have better health and greater longevity. That’s in comparison to either abstainers or alcohol abusers.

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

A standard alcoholic drink is any of the following.

  • A 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer
  • A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine
  • A shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof distilled spirits (liquor).

Standard drinks contain equivalent amounts of alcohol.

Relevant is that there is no evidence that any particular form of alcoholic beverage gives greater health benefits than any other. That is, beer, wine, or distilled spirits are equally beneficial.

Popular Books on Stomach Cancer

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

Eyre, H., et al. Informed Decisions. The Complete Book of Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment, and Recovery. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2002.

Fleming, S., et al. Helicobacter Pylori. NY: Chelsea, 2007. (Juvenile)

Kushi, M. and Jack, A. The Cancer Prevention Diet. NY: St. Martin’s, 2009.

Shah, M., et al. 100 Questions & Answers about Gastric Cancer. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2008.


1. Alcohol and H. pylori Infection.

Note: This website does not make health suggestions about alcohol drinking and stomach cancer.

Scientific Studies on Alcohol Drinking and Stomach Cancer Risk

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

De Stefani, E., et al. Tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking as risk factors for stomach cancer. Cancer Cause Cont, 1998, 9(3), 321-329.

Freedman, N.D., et al. Tobacco, alcohol, and the risk of gastric cancer. Am J Epidem, 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 Cancer, 2000, 85(3), 340-346.

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

Lopez-Carrillo, L., et al. Drinking and stomach cancer. Cader Saude Pub, 1998, 14, Suppl. 3.

Lucenteforte, E., et al. Alcoholic beverages and the risk of stomach cancer. Nut Cancer, 2008, 60(5), 577-584.

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

Shimazu, T., et al. Alcohol drinking and stomach cancer risk. Japan 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 Cancer, 2007, 120(1), 128-132.

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

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

Ye, W., et al. Tobacco, alcohol and the risk of gastric cancer. Int J Cancer, 1999, 83(2), 223-229.

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

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

Zhang, F., et al. Genetic polymorphisms in alcohol metabolism, alcohol intake and the risk of stomach cancer. Int J Cancer, 2007, 121(9), 2060-2064.