According to a recent study out of Canada, the total amount of cancer rates that can be linked to environmental and lifestyle factors are substantial, at almost 41 percent.
Researchers stated that:
“We estimated summary population attributable risk estimates for 24 risk factors (smoking [both passive and active], overweight and obesity, inadequate physical activity, diet [inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, inadequate fiber intake, excess red and processed meat consumption, salt consumption, inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake], alcohol, hormones [oral contraceptives and hormone therapy], infections [Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis B and C viruses, human papillomavirus, Helicobacter pylori], air pollution, natural and artificial ultraviolet radiation, radon and water disinfection by-products) by combining population attributable risk estimates for each of the 24 factors that had been previously estimated.”
The results of the study revealed that 40.8% of cancer cases can be attributed to the above-mentioned 24 factors.
Furthermore, researchers added that:
“Tobacco smoking was responsible for the greatest cancer burden, accounting for an estimated 15.7 percent of all incident cancer cases (2,485 cases), followed by physical inactivity and excess body weight, which were responsible for an estimated 7.2 percent and 4.3 percent of incident cancer cases, respectively.”
Less than 4% of incident cancer cases were mainly because of the other factors. Thereby, researchers concluded that cancer can be prevented by combining exercise and effort to avoid the environmental factors of incurring it.
Moreover, the study gives knowledge that a big part of what is considered as a bad diet is the consumption of too many sugars, which is common in today’s society. At present, almost all packaged products contain some form of fructose.
It was also found that too much fat intake is also not good for the body. A study conducted last July 2017 and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that consumption of saturated fats is linked to a risk of lung cancers in smokers and those who have quit smoking for the past 10 years. On the other hand, Charred and barbecued meats, can increase the risks of breast and pancreatic cancers.
But according to Sally Shi-Po Poon, a Hong Kong dietitian, processed foods are the ones that take the cake. Processed food refers to any food that has been altered from its natural state in some way, for convenience’s sake.
Included on the list of common processed foods are canned and frozen vegetables, microwave or ready-to-eat meals, bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, processed meats such as luncheon meat and jerky, drinks such as coffee, juice, and milk as well as oils, bread, and savory snacks such as crisps and biscuits.
Luckily, Poon said that not all processed foods are unhealthy. Like for example, milk needs to be pasteurized, therefore altered from its natural state, in order to remove harmful bacteria from its constitution.
Vin Ip, Health Designer founder and senior dietitian, said some processed foods are not detrimental to your health, noting that:
“Minimally processed foods are almost identical to unprocessed foods and are therefore acceptable to include in our diet.”
We should be aware of all the heavily-processed foods and avoid them at all costs. These include those high in salt, nitrates, and nitrates which are likely to cause cancer – like deli meats like sausages, bacon, and salami.
Poon further commented that:
“Eating 50 grams of processed meat every day increases one’s risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. That’s the equivalent of about four strips of bacon or one hot dog.”