Wednesday, 6 Jul 2022

Cancer warning: From E numbers to burnt toast, the foods linked to cancer risk – Dr Nighat

Dr Hilary Jones discusses bowel cancer awareness acronym

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Cancer is a nightmarish prospect: one in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that you can modify your risk of developing the potentially deadly disease. According to TV’s Doctor Nighat Arif, there is much debate on the role diet plays in influencing the risk.

“There are some people that really believe that some foods cause an inflammatory response.”

As Doctor Nighat explained, wherever you get inflammation you get changes in cells and wherever you get changes in cells, the risk of cancer increases.

She continued: “We know that already with alcohol – alcohol will damage your hepatic liver cells, which is a risk factor for cancer.”

According to Doctor Nighat, you should also be wary of fatty foods and foods that are “full with E numbers”.

Foods that have a high sugar and salt content can also lead to deleterious changes in the gut, she warned.

“We also know that if we have food that is burnt that is associated with an increased risk,” the TV doc warned.

As she explained, too much burnt toast or red meat puts you at a “high risk” of bowel cancers.

Health bodies are conflicted on the link between burnt foods and cancer, however.

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The fear of eating burnt foods primarily stems from “acrylamide” – a chemical that’s released in starchy foods such as bread and potatoes when they’re cooked at high temperatures for a long time.

Cancer Research UK says: “You might’ve read about a possible link between acrylamide and cancer. But there isn’t enough good quality evidence to show this.”

For example, the charity points out, some studies aren’t able to accurately measure the amount of acrylamide in people’s diets.

“Good quality studies have not shown that acrylamide from food causes cancer in humans.”

Nonetheless, “some foods with acrylamide are high in calories, so can make it harder to keep a healthy weight”, it warns.

Being overweight or having obesity increases your risk of getting cancer.

“You may be surprised to learn that being overweight or having obesity are linked with a higher risk of getting 13 types of cancer,” warns the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Indeed, Doctor Nighat said a woman with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 has a 50 percent higher chance of getting breast cancer.

“We know obesity is very complex but the more calories you consume, the more likely you are to be obese.”

The doc added: “This is something we definitely need to look at.”

Cancer – general signs to spot

It’s important to be aware of any new or worrying symptoms.

“Although it’s unlikely to be cancer, it’s important to speak to a GP so they can investigate. Finding cancer early means it’s easier to treat,” explains the NHS.

Signs to spot include:

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Bloating
  • Lumps
  • Moles
  • Unexplained weight loss.

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