Malachy Kelly rebalance your life

Is your dinner giving you cancer?
In the UK, one in four people die of cancer. In Ireland, one in three will die from it. This is a startling statistic, and may be a damning indictment of modern lifestyles. With the wealth of research that has been carried out on all aspects of cancer, why is it still killing one in three in this country? (one in four if skin cancer is excluded).

What are the factors which cause cancer? Many associations are well known and high in the consciousness of the general public, such as tobacco smoking and excessive exposure to UV radiation from sunlight. What is much lower in the awareness of the general population is that we may very well be eating ourselves to death.

There is an ongoing trend globally towards obesity which is worrying health care service providers. This is mainly being combated by informing the general public of the health risks associated with obesity, focusing on heart disease and diabetes. Rarely if ever is cancer mentioned as a an associated risk, even though there is significant evidence to show this may be the case, as concluded by Carroll, who stated: “The evidence has been most consistent for endometrial cancer, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, and renal cell cancer. More variable results have been reported for colorectal, prostate and pancreatic cancer.”

Researchers have been able to identify risk associated foods by looking at the varying incidences of different types of cancers which occur in regions which have traditionally had different or very different nutritional practices, eg., Japan Vs India Vs western Europe. Numerous studies have found variances in cancer levels in populations where the diet is more traditional, but when members of those respective communities adopt a western style diet themselves, cancer demographics begin to resemble those of the west. In general those consuming a western style diet have vastly elevated levels of cancers of certain types. Is this due to an over consumption of processed foods?

According to a review of the available research on heat processed foods by Jägerstad and Skog, “food-borne toxicants present in cooked foods are possibly or probably carcinogenic to humans”. This review adds weight to the arguments for moving towards fresh food. Other studies identify red meat as a high risk factor in certain types of cancer as documented in a 1995 review by Willett “recent data have supported a causative role for red meat in the development of colon and prostate cancers“.

Thankfully, some foods have been proven to have positive effects on cancer related health. Fresh fruit and vegetables, besides being excellent sources of many vitamins and minerals, also contain a number of compounds known to be beneficial in preventing or even treating cancers. Brassica vegetables, including cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower have been shown conclusively in almost 100 studies to have the effect of decreasing the risk of cancers in the lung, stomach, colon, and rectum, while broccoli consumption decreases risk of all cancers. A 1999 review by Giovannucci of studies relating Lycopene (a compound most commonly found in tomatoes) and cancer risk, reported that “The evidence for a benefit was strongest for cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach. Data were also suggestive of a benefit for cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, oesophagus, oral cavity, breast, and cervix.”

Numerous epidemiological studies refer to a study carried out in 1976 amongst a large population of Seventh-Day Adventists who observe a strict vegan diet. One such study carried out by Jacobsen et al., 98, concluded that consumption of soya milk on a daily basis could reduce risk of prostate cancer by up to 70%, and recommended that further research be carried out on the influence of soy products on prostate cancer.

What can we take from all this research? The answer is plain.
Regardless of how healthy our lifestyles are otherwise, not paying attention to what we eat could kill us.

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