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Rose Day (Welfare of Cancer patients): What Should You Not Eat When You Have Cancer?

Every year on 22 September, World Rose Day (Welfare of Cancer Patients) is observed. The day is dedicated to people around the world who are fighting their against cancer. The day is named so in the memory of a 12-year-old girl from Canada named Melinda Rose, who battled cancer bravely and didn't give hope even during her last days. On this occasion, we will discuss the importance of diet in the life of a cancer patient.

Diet plays a major role in preventing the risk of diseases as well as triggering them. Cancer is a chronic disease and the second leading cause of death worldwide. It is characterised by the abnormal and uncontrollable growth of cells that crowd out normal cells. There are many types of cancer depending on the place of origin, nature and aggressiveness.

Cancer can be triggered due to many factors like unhealthy lifestyle, bad habits, lack of physical workouts, tobacco, genes, infections and environmental exposure to chemicals and pollutants. However, experts suggest that around 70 per cent of cancer risk can be prevented if we make a few lifestyle changes, along with changes in dietary habits.

There are certain foods which are carcinogenic and may increase the risk of cancer. Take a look at these foods and try to avoid exclude them from your diet.


1. Canned foods

Canned foods such as canned salmon or canned beans can be the most carcinogenic of all foods. This is because of a chemical named bisphenol-A or BPA used in the manufacturing of these cans. BPA can alter the gene structure and cause hormone-related cancer such as ovarian, breast and prostate. [1]


2. Junk foods

Junk foods like fast pizza, noodles or burgers contribute to diabetes, obesity and strokes, which in turn, may lead to the risk of cancer. Also, these foods contain many additives, flavours and preservatives that can act as potent carcinogens. [2]


3. Processed meats

A study shows that consumption of processed meats such as bacon, sausages and hot dogs are linked to 20 per cent increase in the risk of lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancer. [3]


4. Carbonated beverages

Carbonated beverages are linked to upper gastrointestinal tract cancer risk. They tend to increase the gastric reflux in the body which may lead to this cancer type. Also, the acidic effect of soda may dissolve the inner lining of the stomach and the intestines, causing ulcers that can later turn into cancer. [4]


5. Hydrogenated vegetable oils

They are edible oils which are first extracted from plants such as sunflower or olive but are later hydrogenated to improve their shelf-life, spreadability and solidity. Hydrogenated vegetable oils can damage the cells and increase the risk of skin cancer, colorectal cancer, breast and prostate cancer. [5]


6. High salted foods

High salty foods tend to corrode or inflame the inner lining of the stomach, damage gastric mucus, increase gastric acid secretion and increase proliferation risk. These factors increase the risk of stomach cancer. [6]


7. Smoked foods

Frequent intake of smoked foods is associated with increased risk of intestinal tract cancer. When meat or fish is smoked, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are produced which are carcinogenic when swallowed, inhaled or consumed. [7]


8. Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are highly refined in nature and around 600 times sweet than regular sugar. A few artificial sweeteners which are in most common use are saccharine, aspartame, cyclamate, etc. While saccharine can cause bladder cancer, aspartame may be the cause of brain tumours. [8]


9. Trans fats

Trans fatty acids lower good cholesterol levels while increased bad cholesterol levels. They are mainly found in a frozen pizza, coffee creamer, baked goods and microwave popcorn. A study has shown that trans fats can increase the risk of colon and rectum cancer. [9]


10. White flour

White flour or maida is a highly refined form of wheat. It is processed by chlorine gas which is responsible for its white colour. When processed, the glycemic index of the food increases, which in turn, increases the glucose levels in the body. This can lead to the risk of colon and kidney cancer. [10]


11. Fish rich in mercury

High exposure to mercury can be carcinogenic. Fishes such as marlin, shark, swordfish, bigeye tuna have high mercury levels which can increase tumour risk when consumed in high amount.


12. Unpasteurised dairy

Dairy products comprise milk (whole or skim), cheese (fresh, cottage and hard cheese) and yoghurt. They can have positive and negative effects on carcinogenesis at the same time. High consumption of dairy products can modulate inflammatory processes increase cancer risk. A study says that adequate amount of cheese is beneficial for health but its high consumption can increase the risk of prostate cancer. [11] .


13. Bread

The use of acrylamide (a water-soluble white crystalline solid) is common in bakery industries. This compound was listed as an industrial chemical with potential carcinogenic properties. Bread, baked goods and starchy supermarket products have been laced with potassium bromate which is a potent carcinogen. [12]


14. Grilled red meat

When meat or fish products are subjected to a high temperature, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are produced which are carcinogenic. They are known to increase the risk of prostate cancer and colorectal cancer. [13]


15. Alcohol

Studies show that a high intake of alcohol is linked to the development of various types of cancer. Excess alcohol consumption may lead to mouth cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer and throat cancer. The ideal recommendation on the intake of alcohol by the Cancer Research UK and the American Cancer Society is not more than one drink for women and two drinks for men. [14]

Story first published: Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 14:16 [IST]