August 5, 2020

Four myths about food and cancer, debunked

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By Ashley Halsey

Ashley Halsey

Cancer affects a significant proportion of the U.S. population, so it’s natural to want to reduce that risk. In fact, overall we have: over the last 25 years our cancer rate has dropped by over a quarter. Part of this is due to greater awareness about how we live a healthier life, and a great deal of that is down to what we eat.

Unfortunately, the internet is awash with myths and falsehoods about how different food affects our chances of getting cancer. This ranges from misunderstood studies and wishful thinking to more risky misinformation, so it’s important to separate the fact from the fiction. Here are four myths about food and cancer — two causes and to preventions — that don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.

Causing cancer: Sugar

That sugary foods contribute to poor health is no mistake, but sugar has also been linked to cancer in slightly less concrete ways. The theory is that sugar, a source of energy for all human cells, can also be a source of energy for cancer cells. By eliminating sugar from your diet some say you can allegedly “starve” cancer cells.

While eating less sugar is certainly not a bad idea, the fact of the matter is your body is really good at generating energy. Even if you don’t put any sugar into it, it will find ways to break down fat or carbohydrates to convert into sugars, which cancer cells can snack on just like that Snickers you avoided.

Besides that logic, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the American Institute for Cancer Research have both conducted studies showing no link between sugar and cancer cells.

Causing cancer: Overcooked food

Another idea floating around is that overcooked or burnt food can increase your risks of cancer. This stems from animal studies involving acrylamide, a compound found in overcooked and fried foods.

Again, the evidence is shaky. it’s always a good idea to reduce your intake of fried food and eat more fresh produce, but multiple studies have shown there’s little evidence idea that overcooked food will cause cancer cells to grow. The theory is that humans are just better at breaking down acrylamide that lab animals, but some scientists warn that the results aren’t entirely conclusive. To be extra safe, aim for a golden yellow colour when roasting your potatoes, and try and avoid fast food as much as you can.

Preventing cancer: Superfoods

It’s the new buzzword in health food stores, organic supermarkets and often on the back of your $10 smoothie: superfoods range from certain seeds to vegetables to pulses and are claimed to have amazing health benefits including cancer risk reduction.

Unfortunately, the reality is the same as it’s always been: a healthy balanced diet is the best way to reduce cancer risks. That means vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. While superfoods can make a great part of this, they shouldn’t be the only food you seek out, and eating them alone has yet to be proven to reduce your risk of cancer.

Preventing cancer: Vegetarianism

This one’s a tricky one. First of all, eating less processed and red meats is certainly a way to decrease your risks of cancer, and some studies have found a link between vegetarian diets and cancer protection.

On the other hand, fish and lean poultry have not been linked to increased cancer risks. Now, as a vegetarian myself, I’m not going to tell you to run out and gorge on poultry, but I have to acknowledge the science that says meat and fish can form part of a healthy balanced diet, which we already know is linked to a healthier, cancer-free life.

Conclusion

All of these tips really come back to one fact: that a healthy lifestyle is the best way to fend off cancer. That means eating well — balanced, proportioned meals — and regular exercise. This is the only sure-fire, scientifically-backed way, and it’s been this way for years. So, when you see bloggers and news sites try their best to come up with more exciting or scary facts, remember to think twice before running out to buy that tub of chia seeds.

Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Luckyassignments.com and Gumessays.com. She is a qualified writer, experienced researcher, and has been involved in many business projects across the country. Mother of two children, she enjoys travelling, reading and attending business training courses. Also, she blogs at Research Papers UK.

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