Eat well, live well to reduce cancer risks

Eat well, live well to reduce cancer risks
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Your diet and lifestyle can reduce the risks of getting cancer.

There is no sure way of preventing cancer, but there are steps one can take to reduce one's chances. While a healthy diet is one such way, other factors such as physical activities can also play a part.

The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research reviewed thousands of studies on cancer and found that these factors help in preventing cancer or the recurrence of cancer. They are:

- Keep body fat as low as possible within the normal body weight range.

- Keep physically active as part of your everyday life.

- Cut down on sugar.

- Eat mostly foods that are of plant origin.

- Limit your intake of red meat and processed meat.

- Do not consume too much alcohol: Men should not drink more than two glasses a day and women not more than one per day.

- Limit your salt intake by consuming less salted foods or smoked foods and avoid mouldy cereals, grains and pulses.

Nutritional needs should be met by your diet, rather than supplements.

As you can see, there is no one particular food that can prevent cancer. Instead, it involves changing your lifestyle such as eating habits and physical activities.

Eating healthy

Processed food such as ham, bacon, salami and sausages should be avoided as much as possible. Nitrates or nitrites are usually added to these, or the smoking and drying process may produce N-nitroso, a compound that may be carcinogenic.

Carcinogen can also be found in moulds and toxins such as Aflatoxin in cereals, grains and peanuts as well as fumonisin in maize.

To prevent carcinogen, be more mindful of how you prepare your food. For example, avoid cooking meat at high temperatures such as deep frying. Meat and seafood which have been grilled or barbecued over a direct flame also causes carcinogen to form.

Change your diet

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Try to use fresh ingredients and natural foods in cooking. For example, go for fresh fish or chicken rather than fish balls, chicken nuggets or meat patties as these are considered processed foods and have added preservative or fillers.

Many people tend to turn to frozen processed food out of convenience. To get around this, you should try to plan in advance what to cook. By doing so, you will know what ingredients need to be thawed and ready to be cooked by the time you reach home. Those who do not plan usually end up turning to convenience or processed food instead.

Research has found that consumption of alcohol increases the risk of head and neck, oesophageal, colorectal and breast cancers.

Alcohol is found to generate reactive oxygen which can damage the DNA, proteins and lipids, or fats, through a process called oxidation. It also impairs the body's ability to break down and absorb a variety of nutrients typically associated with cancer risk.

Alcohol is also known to increase blood levels of oestrogen, a hormone which is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

Alcoholic beverages could also contain a variety of carcinogenic contaminants such as nitrosamines, asbestos fibres, phenols and hydrocarbons, that are introduced during fermentation and the production process.

Source: CanHOPE. CanHOPE is a non-profit cancer counselling and support service provided by Parkway Cancer Centre.

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