World Cancer Day 2019: Foods And Drinks That Are Most Likely To Increase Risk Of Cancer

World Cancer Day 2019: The estimated number of deaths due to cancer in 2018 was 9.5 million, which amounts to a whopping 26,000 deaths a day. This number is expected to increase as environmental stresses increase, air quality worsens, lifestyles and eating habits too!

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World Cancer Day 2019: Foods And Drinks That Are Most Likely To Increase Risk Of Cancer

World Cancer Day 2019: Pesticide residues in foods have adverse health effects and may lead to cancer.


Highlights

  1. World Cancer Day is an international day, marked on 4th Feb
  2. Always opt for fresh and local produce
  3. Switching to artificial sweeteners to cut down calories is not wise

World Cancer Day is an international day, which is marked on 4th February to increase awareness of cancer, and to encourage its prevention, early detection and treatment. Every year the theme has its own theme. The theme for World Cancer Day 2019 is - 'I am and I will'. The estimated number of deaths due to cancer in 2018 was 9.5 million, which amounts to a whopping 26,000 deaths a day. This number is expected to increase as environmental stresses increase, air quality worsens, lifestyles and eating habits too!

Also read: What is Cancer?

Substances that induce free radical damage and promote cancerous cells are called carcinogens. Carcinogens can be different agents like:

  • Physical carcinogens (ultraviolet and ionizing radiations)
  • Biological carcinogens (certain bacteria, viruses and parasites)
  • Chemical carcinogens (synthetic products created by industry, components of smoke, pesticide residues, chemicals used in the food industry etc).
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The theme for World Cancer Day 2019 is - 'I am and I will'.
Photo Credit: iStock

Apart from the above, there are some factors which increase cancer risk, these include:

  • increasing age
  • stressful lifestyle associated with poor nutritional status owing to low fruit & vegetable intake
  • use of tobacco, alcohol
  • chronic infections
  • being overweight too increases the risk of breast, esophageal, colorectal, ovarian and endometrial cancer.

Also read: Early Signs And Symptoms Of Blood Cancer You Should Not Miss

Foods which can increase risk of cancers of different types include:

Charred meats: When red meat and processed meats are grilled to a high temperature and charred, it produces DNA damaging heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. So cook on medium heat, flipping at intervals; baking at moderate temperature and broiling are also safe cooking methods.

Microwavable popcorn: The bag of microwavable popcorns is lined with perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA) which is a likely carcinogen. The corn kernels are genetically modified and the fumes released from the artificial butter contain diacetyl and are toxic to humans. So make your popcorns the traditional way.

Hydrogenated fats: Change the shape of cellular membranes and promote the growth of abnormal cells, these are definitely very harmful. These should be replaced with a variety of healthier fats & oils like desi ghee, coconut oil, mustard oil, groundnut oil etc used in moderation.

Sodas: Sodas are a deadly concoction of harmful colors, preservatives loaded with tons of sugar and hidden sugars. So remain loyal to the good, old nimboo-pani or nimboo soda; adding a little bit of sugar is not harmful. What is harmful is the hidden sugar added by the manufacturers in processed and packaged foods.

Packaged foods containing hidden sugars: Hidden sugars like high fructose corn syrup are one of the major cancer causing foods which leads to spikes in serum insulin and also feeds cancer cells. All sources of hidden sugars like bakeries, confectionaries, biscuits, ready to eat breakfast cereals, energy bars and the so-called health drinks etc should be avoided.

Artificial sweeteners: Switching to artificial sweeteners to save some calories is not a wise decision either. Several studies have shown a link between artificial sweeteners and cancer risk in lab studies.

Canned foods: The lining of most cans contain bisphenol A (BPA) which is known to increase cancer risk. Many plastic packaging also contain BPA. Of canned goods, tomatoes and its products are the worst because their acidity causes more BPA to leach into the food.

Highly salted foods: Regular consumption of highly salted foods like cured meats, salted fish etc can lead to stomach cancer by damaging the stomach lining and causing inflammation. Always opt for fresh and local produce.

Processed & smoked meats: Excess consumption of processed meats including ham, bacon, sausages and salami can increase the risk of some cancers. When smoked foods are cooked at high temperatures, the nitrates present in them (that have been added to prolong shelf life) convert into the more dangerous nitrites.

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Processed and packaged foods contain high amounts of trans and saturated fats.
Photo Credit: iStock

Alcohol: Several studies have established the link between alcohol intake and cancer though the exact mechanism is not understood. It could be through promoting weight gain. Moderation in consumption is critical to minimize its damaging effects.

Pesticide residues in foods have adverse health effects and may increase the risk of cancers. One simple way to eliminate some pesticide residue is to dip your fruits, vegetable and fresh produce in a vessel containing 4 parts water and 1 part vinegar for about 20 minutes and then rinse with clean water.

There are some food items that help in preventing the growth of cancer cells. These include turmeric, garlic, citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, purple-red fruits & veggies, high-fibre whole grains, nuts & seeds, beans, leafy veggies etc. Regular consumption of these, abstinence from smoking, alcohol and an overall healthy diet and lifestyle can help reduce cancer risk.

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There are some food items that help in preventing the growth of cancer cells.
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: Busted! Most Common Myths And Misconceptions About Cancer

(Pooja Malhotra is a nutritionist based in Delhi)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. 

 

 



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