It is true that our diet has a part to play in either increasing or reducing the risk of coming down with cancer. In this article, I will be reviewing foods that can cause you cancer and what to do to reduce the risk of coming down with cancer. You might want to avoid these foods if you have a family history of cancer (that is, if someone on your family tree has come down with cancer before).
Processed and red meat have been seen to pose a risk of cancer. Red meat is all meat derived from mammals. Pork, beef, and mutton all fall under this. Processed meat, on the other hand, is meat that has been changed in some way using some methods like salting, smoking, etc.
Processed meat is classified as a type 1 Carcinogen. A carcinogen is any substance capable of causing or worsening cancers. Type 1 carcinogens are foods that have been seen, through studies, to have a cancerous effect on human beings.
For example, tobacco is a type 1 carcinogen.
One of the commonest cancers associated with eating red and processed meat is colorectal cancer. This is cancer along the colon and rectum.
All in all, it is best you limit how often and how much you take red meat. Settle for other sources of protein instead, like eggs or milk, etc.
Alcohol is a depressant, although one feels stimulated after a drink or two. It is one of the main ingredients in alcoholic beverages and gives a flavor people love.
But, you see, alcohol is also one of those substances which can have an effect heightening your risk of coming down with cancer. Like tobacco, it is a type 1 carcinogen. Remember that type 1 carcinogens are substances that are known to have a cancer-causing effect on human beings.
Alcohol can cause cancer by altering the composition of cells. By altering our hormones. Or by even killing our cells.
Some of the cancers associated with alcohol include breast cancers, bowel cancers, and cancers of the mouth.
Up to 4,400 cancers of the breast, every year are a result of alcohol intake.
The carcinogenic effect of alcohol does not seem dose-dependent, as even people who take low doses of the substance still come down with cancer.
Asides from cancer, there seem to be other problems associated with drinking alcohol. One of those is beer belly. Check out this article on how beer belly forms and how to lose it.
3. Fried Foods
When you fry starchy foods, a compound called acrylamide is produced. Though acrylamide may be formed by simply raising the temperature of starchy foods, it is more commonly seen in frying.
A study in 2018 showed the possibility of acrylamide being carcinogenic in rats and suggested that it just might have the same effect on humans.
Two years after, acrylamide was confirmed to have a damaging effect on our cells. It does so by altering the DNA so that apoptosis begins to take place. Apoptosis is basically programmed cell death—where the body starts to kill its own cells.
Apoptosis is a common phenomenon in cancer cells.
The mechanism with which a diary poses a risk of cancer is a complex one.
IGF-1 is a compound in the body that helps in the functioning of growth hormones. It is called Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 because it functions somewhat like insulin and has a role to play in growth.
While IGF-1 is a normal body compound, higher levels of the compound may have an effect on causing cancers, especially prostate cancers.
Since it is a growth factor, it helps cancer cells grow faster and more in number.
Diary may have an effect on increasing the amount of IGF-1 present in our bodies at a given time, which means that it has an effect on triggering or worsening prostate cancers.
If you are over 40 years old with a family history of prostate cancers, you just might have to limit how often you take dairy products.
Read: 10 Ways to Get Your Natural Flat Belly
5. Refined Sugars
Refined sugars may also be a culprit when it comes to causing cancers, even though the pathway is not direct. Sugars and excess carbohydrates may lead to excess weight gain and likely obesity.
Obesity is usually associated with type 2 diabetes—since excess fat compromises the ability of insulin receptors to make use of insulin.
Obesity and insulin can cause chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. These can, in turn, cause cancers.
A study in 2018 shows that diabetes can increase the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Instead of eating refined sugars, you can turn to natural sweeteners like honey. And you can eat whole grain instead. Go for brown rice instead of processed or white rice. Eat oats. Consumes foods rich in fiber.
Above all, you might want to stay away from fast food and burgers.
What to Do to Reduce the Risk of Coming down with Cancer?
1. Eat Anti-inflammatory Foods
Anti-inflammatory foods are foods that can reduce the risk of coming down with chronic inflammation. Since chronic inflammation is often associated with oxidative stress and cancer, dealing with inflammation is a perfect step in the right direction.
There is a list of anti-inflammatory foods to try out. Check these out. They include vegetables and nuts with strong antioxidant properties.
2. Lose Weight
If you are overweight or even slightly obese, the best thing to do right now is lose some weight. Tens of thousands of words can be written to guide you to lose weight, but I’d try to summarize everything.
Weight loss happens when you burn out fat stores. And to burn out fat stores, you have to do two things:
- limit the intake of fat and calories so that the fat stores don’t grow larger.
- Burn, and keep burning.
The simultaneous burning of the calorie stores and depriving of calorie stores will make weight loss happen.
So, in addition to a healthy diet, exercise more and try not to remain inactive for long periods.
3. Go for Regular Checks
It is always a great idea to go see your doctor once in a while so that you can be accessed for cancers. Early diagnosis of cancer usually results in a better outcome.
Regular checkups from accredited healthcare providers can go a long way to help prevent cancer and other serious health problems.
- IARC: List of Classifications. monographs.iarc.who.int/list-of-classifications
- WHO: Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/cancer-carcinogenicity-of-the-consumption-of-red-meat-and-processed-meat
- Cancer Research UK: Does alcohol cause cancer?. cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/alcohol-and-cancer/does-alcohol-cause-cancer
- Gerl R, et al. (2005). Apoptosis in the development and treatment of cancer. academic.oup.com/carcin/article/26/2/263/2476038
- Aune D, et al. (2014). Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/101/1/87/4564339
- Am J Clin Nutr. (2020). Total and added sugar intakes, sugar types, and cancer risk: results from the prospective NutriNet-Santé cohort. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32936868/