It may be hard to fathom how much a simple change in your diet can impact your life. After all, what’s holding you back from enjoying a bag of chips over Netflix or downing glasses of alcohol on a night out with your friends? The bad news is that research published in American journal Pharmaceutical Research found that cancer-related deaths attributed to diet and tobacco are as high as 60 to 70 percent worldwide. But the good news? If you are worried about cancer, you can lower your risk by cutting down on these eight foods.
Most of us are aware that fries are one of the unhealthiest foods, but did you know that they are also cancer-causing due to hydrogenated oils used to deep fry them? Hydrogenated oils contain high levels of trans fat, known to cause cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, the high salt content in fries simply contributes to other health problems. But even more alarmingly, according to the National Cancer Institute in the US, fries contain acrylamide, a cancer-causing chemical found in cigarettes.
Salmon is often recommended as a healthy dietary staple. But farmed fish, where fish are bred in an overcrowded environment, are often treated with pesticides and carcinogenic chemicals like dioxins and PCBs to control parasites. Opt for wild salmon instead as it contains more minerals and less saturated fat than farmed salmon.
Alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde in your body. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, acetaldehyde is considered a carcinogen. Acetaldehyde may damage DNA or prevent cells from repairing damaged cells, leaving you more susceptible to cancer. Abstinence is the best choice but if you really need an alcohol fix, follow the Health Promotion Board’s guidelines of one standard alcoholic drink for women and two for men.
Processed meat is meat that has been treated to preserve their flavour. Some common examples are ham, salami and sausages. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified processed meat as a ‘Group 1 carcinogen’, which means there is sufficient evidence to indicate that processed meat is carcinogenic. Nitrite and nitrate preservatives used to preserve processed meat can increase your risk of bowel and stomach cancers. Avoid processed meat altogether where possible.
While evidence for red meat like beef, lamb and pork to cause cancer is more limited compared to that of processed meat, red meat is still classified as a carcinogen by WHO. Red meat is considered carcinogens as they contain chemical compounds called nitrosamines, known to damage DNA in our cells to cause cancer. Red meat is a good source of protein but should be eaten in moderation. Limit yourself to no more than one serving per day.
Soft drinks are filled with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial colouring and other chemicals. In a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center, it was found that dark coloured soft drinks contain 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a potential carcinogen. Limit your exposure to 4-MEI by staying away from soft drinks with ‘caramel colour’ or ‘artificial colour’ in the ingredient list.
Unfortunately, the fishballs in our classic hawker dishes aren’t all that healthy even if you order them in soup. According to the Austrailian Cancer Council, high salt consumption is linked to stomach cancer. Processed foods like fishballs, fishcakes and crabsticks contain high amounts of sodium. Six fishballs are enough to make up half the recommended dietary intake of sodium. It doesn’t help that sodium from these processed foods will also leach into your soup. Whether at hawker centres or hot pot meals, it is important to note that these processed foods are more damaging to your health than they appear to be.
While sugar does not directly lead to cancer, it is what sugar does to your body that is of concern. Health issues like obesity and diabetes from excess consumption of sugar put you at a higher risk of cancer. According to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to contract endometrial and breast cancers.