GI Blog

Why Does Half of Global Stomach Cancer Cases Occur in China?

18 August 2023


China has emerged as a true "stomach cancer nation," with its incidence and mortality rates ranking among the top three of all malignant tumors. Every day, 1,870 new cases of stomach cancer are diagnosed in China, accounting for half of global cases. Additionally, 1,022 lives are lost daily to stomach cancer, representing 48.5% of global stomach cancer deaths.

Not a Genetic Issue:

Contrary to assumptions, extensive data analysis reveals that genetics play no significant role in this phenomenon.

A decade-long study tracking Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles found that only 12 out of every 100,000 immigrants developed stomach cancer, less than half the rate among Chinese residents.

Shifting Focus to Dietary Changes:

Researchers shifted their focus to dietary transformations. Before immigrating to the United States, the daily diets of these Chinese individuals included preserved fish, pickled vegetables, and salted foods. After relocating, many abandoned their traditional eating habits.

Excessive Consumption of Fish Sauce:

Studies conducted by institutions like Fujian Medical University and the Fujian Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that excessive consumption of fish sauce is a risk factor for stomach cancer in the Changle region of Fujian. Preserving foods with fish sauce involves substantial salt addition to prevent spoilage. When ingested, this process generates N-nitroso compounds during fermentation and stomach digestion—a known carcinogen.

Salt's Dual Impact:

High-salt diets also harm the gastric mucosa, increasing susceptibility to infection by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). This bacterium is responsible for 80% to 90% of chronic gastritis and gastric ulcers, which, over time, can lead to stomach cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes H. pylori as a microbial carcinogen.

A Comparative Glance:

One might question the situations in China's neighbors, Japan and South Korea, where salted foods like pickles and dried fish are also common.

Startlingly, despite their similar dietary practices, China has a lower stomach cancer incidence than Japan and South Korea but a higher mortality rate.

Divergence in Screening Awareness:

This discrepancy arises from the difference in stomach cancer screening awareness among citizens. Incorporating regular cancer screenings into a healthy lifestyle proves pivotal in lowering incidence and mortality rates.

Stomach cancer screening rates are high in Japan and South Korea. Thanks to early screening programs, patients in these countries seek medical attention promptly, preventing severe consequences. Japan boasts a 5-year survival rate of 64.6% for stomach cancer patients, while South Korea's rate soars to an astonishing 71.5%.

The Importance of Early Detection:

Unfortunately, many in China lack early screening awareness. A delay in seeking medical attention until symptoms worsen results in approximately 80% of patients being diagnosed in later stages.

Experts' Call to Action:

Prominent experts in Chinese gastroenterology are advocating for early stomach cancer screening. According to the "Chinese Guidelines for Early Stomach Cancer Screening," individuals aged 40 and above are encouraged to undergo stomach cancer screenings. Those with a family history of stomach cancer or prior stomach issues may begin screenings earlier.

Preventive Measures:

Whether addressing stomach cancer or gastric issues, early detection and treatment prevent irreversible losses.

Overcoming the Fear:

For those apprehensive about traditional endoscopy procedures, there's an innovative solution: swallow a smart capsule endoscope. Weighing around 5 grams, the intelligent capsule endoscope from Jinshan Technology autonomously navigates the stomach, transmitting real-time images to physicians, revealing even the tiniest abnormalities.

Choosing a Healthier Future:

The fight against stomach cancer begins with awareness. Jinshan Capsule Robot offers an empowering path toward early screening, paving the way for a healthier and brighter future.


"Regional Characteristics of Fujian's Diet Culture" by Huang Qingmin

"Epidemiological Investigation of Helicobacter pylori in the Chinese Natural Population" by Zhang Wandai, Hu Fulian, and Xiao Shudong

"Half of Global Stomach Cancer Cases Occur in China, Hidden in Dietary Habits" by Wave Studio

"This Cancer Strikes Half the World's Population in China. Why the Preference for the Chinese?" by Sichuan Cancer Hospital