Those who, for some reason or another, have an anacidic stomach constitute a special high-risk group. Anacidic stomachs can be caused by atrophic gastritis or the use of antacid medicines.
An anacidic stomach is not able to kill the bacteria and yeasts of the digestive tract, which are carried with saliva to the stomach, where they can grow and multiply. These microbes generate high amounts of acetaldehyde in the stomach from alcohol and sugar, predisposingindividuals to gastric cancer in these high-risk groups.
A stomach becomes anacidic when its pH increases permanently above 4.5. Many people suffering from an anacidic stomach have a stomach pH of up to 6.5–7.5, which is absolutely neutral. Anacidic stomachs can be due to either the destruction of gastric-acid-secreting cells as a consequence of an infection of the mucous membrane of the stomach (atrophic gastritis) or to the regular use of antacid medicines, which prevent the normal function of acid-secreting cells.
Risks associated with anacidic stomachs
There are many known risks associated with anacidic stomachs. When the stomach pH is too high, bacteria and yeasts can grow and reproduce in the stomach. These microbes predispose individuals to infections which assists the formation of carcinogenic acetaldehyde from the sugar and alcohol contained in food and drinks. Furthermore, an inadequate amount of acid in the stomach is also linked to malabsorption and deficiencies of calcium, iron and vitamin B12 and, therefore, also to osteoporosis, anaemia and dementia. Atrophic gastritis increases the risk of gastric cancer 11 to 90 fold.
Anacidic stomach symptoms
An anacidic stomach can result in a variety of non-specific symptoms similar to those of heartburn. Other symptoms include stomach pressure and pains, gas and burping which may appear during meals. However, an anacidic stomach is often asymptomatic or the symptoms are difficult to recognise as unusual, especially if the condition has persisted for a long period.
An anacidic stomach is the most well-known risk factor for stomach cancer.