Background: An extremely high prevalence of stomach cancer was observed in Mizoram (India), where the population consumes uncommon food. The relation of food habits and stomach cancer was examined in this study.
Methods: A hospital-based case-control study was conducted during 2001-2004 to determine the risk factors among 329 patients with histologically confirmed stomach cancer and 658 matched controls. Food habits were determined by personal interview.
Results: An elevated risk of stomach cancer was observed with frequent consumption of sa-um [odds ratio (OR) 3.4] (sa-um is fermented pork fat, a traditional food) and with frequent consumption of smoked dried salted meat (OR 2.8) and fish (OR 2.5). Soda (alkali), used as a food additive, increased the risk of stomach cancer (OR 2.9). Helicobacter pylori infection was not found to be an independent risk factor for carcinogenesis of stomach cancer in this study. However, when H. pylori infection interacted with consumption of sa-um or smoked dried meat, it showed a significant association.
Conclusion: Peculiar food habits in Mizoram might be associated with the high prevalence of stomach cancer in Mizoram along with other factors. H. pylori infection might increase the risk of stomach cancer, or it may play a role as a promoter of stomach cancer in Mizoram.