Monday, February 11, 2013



There are various kinds of cancer, and it is a kind of disease that makes most people feel horrible or scared, however if we have a better understanding of the causes of cancer and the way to prevent it, then we can reduce the risk, and hence avoid a lot of troubles and perhaps help us save a huge sum of money too.

What causes cancer?

Cancer is caused by free radicals, some free radicals are formed normally in our body during metabolism, that is when our immune system purposefully create free radicals to neutralize viruses and bacteria which attack our body.  Environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also spawn free radicals. Carcinogens in foods, such as moulds and char-grilled food also increase the cancer risks.

What are free radicals?

A normal body cell consists of atoms of protons(positively charged particles) and electrons(negatively charged particles), when one of the electrons is missing because of one or more of the above-mentioned factors and leaves a molecule with an odd, unpaired electron, then free radicals are formed, and the good cell becomes a bad one.  The unstable free radicals can react quickly with other compounds, and attack another nearest molecule to “steal” its electron to gain stability, and thus beginning a chain reaction because the "attacked" molecule which loses its electron becomes a free radical itself.  If there are antioxidants available in our body, the body can handle free radicals, otherwise the free-radical production becomes excessive, and finally damaged cells will spread and form a tumor.


The foods we eat or bad eating habit and lifestyle, can affect our risk of developing certain types of cancer.
First we look at the foods that may increase cancer risks:
§  Burnt or charred meat or barbecued foods
Animal protein in meat, poultry and even fish can turn bad if not properly processed.  Burnt or charred meat may increase cancer risk. Carcinogenic substances can be produced if foods are overheated or burnt, and the protein in the food will be damaged and turn into bad protein.  it’s best to use relatively low temperature methods such as  boiling, stewing, steaming, casseroling, braising and stir-frying wherever possible.
§  Fatty processed red meats and highly processed foods that are low in fiber
High-energy,  high-fat and low-fiber diets are thought to increase the risk of some cancers including bowel, lung, prostate and uterine cancers.  World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) recommends that people avoid eating processed meat, including any meat preserved by salting, smoking or by adding chemical preservatives such as sausage, hot dogs, ham, bacon and burgers. Other food additives such as artificial coloring, flavoring and food enhancer should be avoided.

§  Fresh red meat, poultry and farm fish  
In this modern time some feed for livestock, poultry and farm fish always contain antibiotics, hormone and other chemicals which are dangerous to our health.  Besides, there is convincing evidence that red meat can increase bowel cancer risk, therefore if you are a meat eater, you should also limit the amount of fresh red meat you eat to 500g of cooked (or 700g uncooked) red meat a week.  

 §  Cured and heavily salted meat .  
These foods contain nitrate and are generally high in fat and salt. Salt not only has been associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer, but also can increase blood pressure which will also increase the risk for heart disease.
Limit the consumption of salt to 2300 mg/day is the rule of thumb. 

§  Peanuts
unlike other nuts such as almond, pecan, brazil nuts, it takes longer for our body to digest peanuts, and some studies show that animals that consume peanuts which are contaminated with toxin-producing moulds can develop cancer.

§  Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and cyclamate could be dangerous if consumed too often or in huge amounts.  

 §  Alcohol, cigarette and coffee 
Drinking alcohol if combined with smoking can be deadly, consuming alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, colon, breast and liver. The risk is even greater in those people who smoke.  If you can quit smoking and stop drinking then you can improve your health significantly.  Otherwise it is suggested that drink moderately one or two standard drinks a day, but no smoking. Coffee and tea contain caffeine that can cause irregular hearthbeat and sleeplessness, it is better to stop or reduce the consumption of these two beverages if you feel something wrong.

The new studies on alcohol , conducted in conjunction with researchers in the U.S., Canada, and France, shows that the cancer risks of alcohol far outweigh any heart-healthy benefits.

As according to Dr. Timothy Naimi , an alcohol researcher at Boston University's School of Public Health and a physician at the Boston University Medical Center "Alcohol has long been known and recognized as a human carcinogen, so even some alcohol consumption raises your risks.”