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According to the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, 30% to 40% of cancers are directly linked to unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity. Researchers have long suspected that if a woman eats a proper diet in her 20s to 40s, it could lower her mindlife breast cancer risk.
Many studies have confirmed that eating red meats such as pork, lamb and beef is associated with cancer. This is directly related to the fact that red meat contains large amounts of animal protein. Thus, a diet high in animal protein can actually increase the risks of breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer. Data from the “China Study” shows that consuming animal-based food increases the blood levels of insulin-like growth factors-1 (IGF-1). Researchers has found out that people with higher-than-normal blood levels of IGF-1 had 5.1x the risk of advanced-stage prostate cancer.
Another research done by the University of California in the United States reveal that meat contains a harmful substance that causes certain adverse immune reactions that can lead to cancer. Yet another group of researchers reported that through a study spanning two decades, they found that those who ate the most red meat and processed meat for 10 years had a 50% higher risk of distal colon cancer and 71% higher risk of rectal cancer than those who ate less red and processed meat.
Large amount of fat, especially saturated fat which are linked to higher risk of cancers like breast cancer and colon cancer are typically found in meat, dairy and egg products. Research shows that women who eat a lot of animal fat are 33% more likely to contract invasive breast cancer.
If one is fond of preserved meats, it is time to reduce the love (for these preserved meat) as large amount of nitrates or nitrites are often added to these meat, which could potentially put one at a higher risk of developing cancer. This is because there is a high chance that these preservatives (nitrates or nitrites) may react with other substances in meat to form nitrosamine, a carcinogen. A review of epidemiological studies concluded that those who eat the most processed meat have 20% to 50% higher risk of colorectal cancer compared to non-eaters. Preserved and smoked foods are very popular in China, which saw more than 40% of global newly diagnosed stomach cancers and related deaths in 2012.
That said, ironically, Cancer is not only a result of what we eat (unhealthy food), but also what we do not eat (but should eat!). Nutritional deficiencies brought about by inappropriate or unbalanced meals can drastically undermine the immune system. In the context of immune system, studies have shown that plant-based food and nutrition plays an important part in the battle against cancer. A study of over 60,000 Chinese-Singaporeans showed that eating cruciferous vegetables like ‘kai lan’, ‘choi sum’ and broccoli may reduce risk of colorectal cancer and eating yellow and orange coloured fruits like papaya and oranges may reduce risk of lung cancer.
So start taking note of your daily meals today. Be responsible for your health and keep cancer at bay by making changes to your diet. Start by consuming less red Meat and preserved meat. Opt instead for a diet consisting of low-fat and wholesome high-fibre plant food.