Epigenetic silencing of genes by aberrant DNA methylation is recognized as a crucial component of the mechanism underlying tumorigenesis. However, the relationship between DNA methylation and the past lifestyle in cancer patients remains largely unknown. We examined the methylation statuses of 6 tumor-related genes, CDX2 (homeobox transcription factor), BMP-2 (bone morphogenetic protein 2), p16 (INK4A), CACNA2D3 (calcium channel-related), GATA-5 (transcription factor) and ER (estrogen receptor), in 106 primary gastric carcinomas by methylation-specific PCR and compared them with the past lifestyles of the patients. The methylation frequencies of the genes were 23.6, 21.7, 9.4, 32.4, 40.8 and 59.1%, respectively. Significant association was found between a decreased intake of green tea and methylation of CDX2 and BMP-2. More physical activity was correlated with a lower methylation frequency of CACNA2D3. Of these 6 genes, the methylation statuses of CDX2, BMP-2 and p16 revealed a significant interrelationship and those of CACNA2D3, GATA-5 and ER did likewise. Thus, some epidemiological factors, such as green tea intake, could be important as to determination of the methylation statuses of selected genes and may influence the development of cancer, including that of the stomach. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.