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High Salt Ups Cancer Risk: Doctor

Stomach cancer is the fourth-most leading cancer for Cambodians, thanks to a diet high in salt, a doctor said Thursday.

"An increased risk of stomach cancer is the diet containing large amounts of salt, like salted fish and meat, smoked fish and pickled vegetables," said Dr. Taing Tek Hong, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

Nitrates found in cured meats, such as those enjoyed at barbecues, can be converted into nitrite by bacteria in the stomach, he said. The nitrite can react with other substances to form compounds that can cause stomach cancer.

"A special bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori, very common in Cambodia, can cause stomach ulcers and cancer," Taing Tek Hong said. "Cigarette smoking can increase the risk of stomach cancer."

A diet rich in antioxidant vitamines, like A, C and E, available in fresh fruit and vegetables, is protective against stomach cancer, he said, adding that red pepper is good for the stomach, but liquor was bad for the liver and pancreas.