BACKGROUND Studies have shown inconsistent associations of nitrite and nitrate intake with the risk of gastric cancer or its associated mortality. We performed a meta-analysis of observational studies to evaluate the correlation of nitrite and nitrate intake with the risk of gastric cancer. MATERIAL AND METHODS We searched for studies reporting effect estimates and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of gastric cancer in PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library through November 2018. The summary results of the included studies were pooled using a random-effects model. RESULTS Eighteen case-control and 6 prospective cohort studies recruiting 800 321 participants were included in this study. The summary results indicated that the highest (odds ratio [OR], 1.27; 95%CI, 1.03-1.55; P=0.022) or moderate (OR: 1.12; 95%CI, 1.01-1.26; P=0.037) nitrite intake were associated with a higher risk of gastric cancer. However, we noted that high (OR, 0.81; 95%CI, 0.68-0.97; P=0.021) or moderate (OR, 0.86; 95%CI, 0.75-0.99; P=0.036) nitrate intakes were associated with a reduced risk of gastric cancer. These associations differed when stratified by publication year, study design, country, the percentage of male participants, assessment of exposure, adjusted model, and study quality. CONCLUSIONS High or moderate nitrite intake was associated with higher risk of gastric cancer, whereas high or moderate nitrate intake was correlated with lower risk of gastric cancer.