Updated 20 December 2017

Risk factors for peptic ulcers

Smoking and drinking alcohol in particular are some of the risk factors for developing peptic ulcers

  • People who take over-the-counter painkillers in large quantities are more susceptible to gastric ulcers.
  • Research findings also indicate that heavy smokers are more likely to develop duodenal ulcers (ulcers in the lining of the duodenum) than non-smokers.
  • Smoking increases acid secretion and the risk of complications arising from ulcers, such as bleeding, obstruction and perforation of the stomach.
  • Smoking is also the main obstacle to effective medication for ulcers.
  • Stress may also increase the risk of ulcers.
  • Studies on the incidence of gastric ulcers in elderly people have shown that they are more likely to develop this condition. Many elderly people have arthritis and therefore frequently take aspirin and ibuprofen for pain relief.

Read more: 

The complications of peptic ulcers

Preventing peptic ulcers

The symptoms of peptic ulcers

Revised and reviewed by Dr John P Wright MBChB, MRCP (UK), PhD. Gastroenterologist in private practice, Cape Town. February 2015

Previously reviewed by Prof Jan van Zyl, Department of Gastroenterology, University of the Free State, July 2011