Diet and lifestyle are thought to be involved in the etiology of stomach cancer. According to scientists, the food we eat may be involved in increasing our risks of developing stomach cancer. Certain foods contain chemical compounds that are carcinogenic. Although there are still no conclusive research findings directly associating human stomach cancer and carcinogenic compounds, we could at least help prevent stomach cancer by watching the food we eat. Here is some scientific advice that you can follow if you want to keep your stomach free from the dangers of cancer.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain chemicals that have the ability to destroy carcinogenic compounds in the cells. This has been supported by several research findings on the correlation between fruit and vegetable consumption and the decreased prevalence of cancer in some populations.
Fruits and vegetables that are rich in beta carotene and vitamin C provide protection against stomach cancer. These chemical compounds are found in dark green and yellow vegetables and fruits such as spinach, Swiss chard, cantaloupe, acorn squash, mango, and sweet potatoes. Members of the broccoli family such as cauliflower (Brassica oleraceaitalica) and brussel sprouts (Brassica oleracea) have also been shown to decrease the risk of acquiring stomach cancer. Red colored fruits and vegetables like tomatoes (Lycopersicon) and bell peppers (Piper) contain the compound lycopene which has anti-cancer properties. (Mayo Clinic 2009)
Regular consumption of vegetables and fruits like those described above can help not only in stomach cancer prevention but also in the prevention of other types of cancer like colon and pancreatic cancers.
Minimize Consumption of Nitrites and Nitrates
Nitrites and nitrates are used by meat processing plants as preservatives for their products. These compounds are therefore, regular components of many favorite foods, such as hot dogs, sausages, bacon, and others. They are also found in some canned goods like corned beef. Nitrites and nitrates not only extend the shelf life of processed meats but also give it the distinctive colors.
Nitrites and nitrates can be transformed to nitrosamines inside the human body. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic compounds. Studies show that people who consume a lot of meat products with nitrite and nitrate preservatives have higher risks of developing stomach cancer than those who eat just minimal amounts. (MayoClinic 2009)
Fortunately, there are now meat products that don’t contain nitrates and nitrites as preservatives, although they are more perishable, so they must be consumed within a limited period of time. Refrigerating these products somewhat extends their shelf life.
Limit Consumption of Pickled, Smoked, and Heavily Salted Foods
Pickled, smoked and salted foods have been regular components of Japanese and Korean diets for centuries. Before the refrigerator was invented and even today, they smoke, pickle, or heavily salt vegetables and meats for future consumption.
According to scientists, the preserved meat and vegetables contain a high amount of nitrates and nitrites that can be converted to carcinogenic compounds inside the stomach. These compounds can transform normal stomach cells into cancer cells. Scientists correlated the high prevalence of stomach cancer among the Japanese and Koreans to the high consumption of pickled, smoked, and salted foods. (MayoClinic 2009)
Global incidence of stomach cancer has decreased over the past decades because of the increased popularity of the refrigerator as a means of preserving foods. The shelf life of vegetables and meat products are extended by refrigeration so preservation methods like salting and smoking are no longer utilized. However, many countries still practice these preservation methods due to cultural reasons and perhaps because the expensive price of refrigerators makes them unaffordable for poor people.
We should modify our diet for stomach cancer prevention. We should increase our consumption of fruits and vegetables as they contain anti-cancer compounds. At the same time, we should decrease our consumption of foods containing large amounts of preservatives as they are associated with an increased risk of developing stomach cancer.
- “Risk Factors of Stomach Cancer” Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stomach-cancer/DS00301/DSECTION=risk%2Dfactors. January 8, 2009.
- “Prevention of Stomach Cancer” Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stomach-cancer/DS00301/DSECTION=prevention. January 8, 2009
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