With new cases and kinds of cancers coming to light with an alarming regularity, the scare of cancer is very high. While you all know what you should consume if hit by the disease, what a person should not consume is something not many know. We give you a lowdown on what you should avoid to keep cancer at bay. The list has been worked out after speaking to ace health experts.
These are poisonous and cancer-causing chemicals that are produced by certain fungi (Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus) which grow in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains. Aflatoxins are commonly detected in corns, peanuts and cottonseeds. Consuming these damages liver and contributes to the development of liver cancer. Humans are exposed to aflatoxins by consuming foods contaminated with products of fungal growth. Such exposure is difficult to avoid because fungal growth in foods is not easy to prevent. Even though heavily contaminated food supplies are not permitted in the market place, concern remains for the possible adverse effects resulting from long-term exposure to low levels of aflatoxins in the food supply. Further, if one consumes the milk of an animal feeding on aflatoxin contaminated foods, toxins get transmitted to his/ her body. Toxins can also get transmitted to breastfeeding infants by mothers consuming contaminated foodstuffs.
TIP: Do not consume any stale food. Eat as fresh food as possible.
It is a health destroying toxin we can’t avoid. It has been evaluated as having a major role in the development of cancers of the upper digestive tract. A product of alcohol metabolism that is more toxic than alcohol itself, acetaldehyde can make its way into the brain from sources such as alcohol consumption, breathing air contaminated with cigarette and other smoke, smog, vehicle and factory exhaust, synthetic fragrances and many commercially manufactured materials like plastics, dyes, fabrics, adhesives, fuels, plywood, particleboard, insulating foam, fragrances, preservatives etc.
TIP: Indulge less in BBQs, pool parties, campfires, alcohol and sweet beverages, road trips with the car windows and top down and home improvements. Harmless as they seem, these factors increase our exposure to multiple environmental toxins.
Paan and gutka
It’s not just the paan with tobacco or gutka in it that may contribute to oral cancer, but the ones without tobacco also do the same. Paan containing the infamous supari (areca nut) are also carcinogenic. Chewing supaari or betel leaf alone exposes you to risk of developing mouth cancers as well.
TIP: Do not eat tobacco in any form. Avoid paan, bidi, gutka…
Undercooked or raw fish
Freshwater fish often contain liver flukes. The larvae of these worms (Clonorchis sinensis, the Chinese liver fluke, and Opisthorcis viverrini, the Southeast Asian liver fluke) infect humans when they consume undercooked or raw fish. Liver Flukes mostly occur in the Asian regions, especially China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Asian part of Russia. Eating lightly salted, smoked, pickled, marinated, dried or poorly processed fish may also lead to infection with these organisms. Consumption of meat from carnivorous animals that consume raw fish may also transmit the infection to humans indirectly. Infection with these worms may lead to the development of bile duct cancers in humans.
TIP: Consume properly cooked fish. Do not indulge in poorly processed, lightly cooked fish.
Regular consumption of processed meat may cause a greater incidence of bowel cancer. Hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausages are all meats produced by various processes such as salting, curing, fermentation and smoking.
TIP: Cut down on pepperoni and salami. Replace these with healthier lean meats such as chicken, turkey and fish.
Though an excellent source of iron, vitamin B and proteins, the hemoglobin in red meats in metabolised to “possibly carcinogenic” N-nitroso compounds in our gut.
TIP: Keep red meat intake occasional and switch to whites for your daily protein needs.
These are colourless, odourless mixtures obtained from a mineral source, commonly distilled petroleum fractions. While they are not generally present in foodstuff (unless by contamination), mineral oils find indirect use in the food industry. These are used to preserve wooden cutting boards, salad bowls and utensils. Confectioners also use it to give a glossy finish to the products and prevent candies from sticking to each other. Industrial baking equipment also use mineral oil as a lubricant. Paraffin oil based feeds (cheaper alternative to use vegetable or animal fats in feeds) may lead to mineral oil contamination in food products (e.g. eggs). Due to its poor absorption in the human body, mineral oil has also been (undesirably) used as a slimming agent.
TIP: Avoid this product as far as possible.
Emissions from high temperature frying
Very small (sub-micron) sized particulate matter emissions occur during cooking and frying with oil beyond its boiling point. These may contain, among other substances, carcinogenic chemicals such as PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and heterocyclic amines. Heating oil increases its fatty acid content, thereby lowering the smoke point and increasing the amount of emissions on use.
TIP: Avoid reusing oil, especially for frying. Look up the smoke point of oil before using it for frying. Avocado oil, ghee, safflower, mustard and rice bran oils have high smoke points. Refining increases the smoke point of oils, so unrefined or cold pressed oils should not be used for frying, but consumed raw or lightly heated instead.