06 September 2004

--- How To Lower Your Risks

Cancer is still a terrible illness to have, but if you or someone you know has a strong family history of cancer --- which means that anything we do medically is simply palliative and a delaying tactic --- you can improve your chances of fighting by eating the right foods. Recent medical news tell us that "between 30 to 40 percent of all cancers can be prevented through a combination of a healthy diet, exercise, and a healthy body weight."

Here are the tips taken from Medical News Today. Bold words and elaborate explanations courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Dr. Emer:
  1. Eat 5 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit a day - fruits and veggies seem to be nature's potent anti-cancer agents. They contain anti-oxidants that ward off the free radicals known to initatiate cancer in the body's cells. Rather than spend a fortune buying expensive anti-oxidant supplements, you will be better off feasting on fruits and veggies.

  2. Eat a diet rich in fibre - when patients ask me what fiber is, I ask them in return, "nakakain na ba kayo ng papel?" ("have you eaten paper?"). Fiber is hibla in Pilipino, and it simply means that. Fiber is bulk food, often undigested or partially digested. It traps fats and harmful substances and you excrete them as is when you move your bowels. It has also been theorized that it contains butyrate and somehow prevents colon cancer. Fibrous foods include enriched grains or whole grain products made with wheat bran, oat bran, whole wheat, oats, rye, or flax.

  3. Adopt a lower-fat diet - eat food items that have less or no fat in them. Avoid or minimize your intake of red meats. Choose lean meats instead. Avoid eating in fastfood restos and covenience stores that often offer high-calorie fatty food items. When you fry, choose the healthier oils like soyabean oil and olive oil. Bad fats are the saturated fats. Last year, it was found out that there was a clear association between saturated fats and breast cancer development.

  4. Drink less alcohol - moderate alscohol drinking is okay and is defined as "no more than 1 drink a day, and no more than 7 drinks a week, or more than 4 drinks on one occasion." More than 14 drinks a week is already classified as a risk. And if you really cannot avoid drinking, make it red wine. The "strongest link between alcohol and cancer involves cancers of the upper digestive tract, including the esophagus, the mouth, the pharynx, and the larynx." Less consistent data link association between alcohol consumption and cancers of the liver, breast, and colon have also been reported. [Alcohol and Cancer]

  5. Limit the amount of meats you eat that are preserved in salt - this include bacon and our very own dried fish items like tuyo and the other daings (dried fish). Salty food doubles your cancer risk especially stomach cancer.

  6. Limit the amount of smoked meat you eat - Filipinos love barbecued pork and beef items. In the late afternoons, in the metropolis and in the provinces, it is common to find "bbq" stands selling these items. Mixed with gin or bilog, it is a feast and also a recipe for cancer. Stomach and colorectal cancers are some of those associated with smoked meat. Cured pork and those processed with nitrites should also be avoided. The Cancer Council of South Wales has very good information on this matter which you might find interesting.

  7. Avoid charring or deep browning your food - these cooking methods produce too much polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PACs) compounds (same with barbecued meat items)that might prove to be carcinogenic when ingested over long periods of time. The crispier it is, the deadlier, so beware! There is a sound advice being admonished by health authorities: "If you do want to barbecue your food, cook it slowly, and keep food as far from hot coals as possible."
And for those worried about pesticides and traces of pesticides on their fruits and veggies, you can do the following:
  • wash all fruits and vegetables

  • throw away outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage

  • peel fruits and vegetables that have skins

  • scrub edible skins, like those on potatoes and carrots

  • you can also try soaking them in a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water (2:1 dilution)
Follow these simple eating tips and we might have a fighting chance against cancer.

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