Modern food and cancer

Everything starts with your food- be careful!

Source: Unsplash

Interestingly, my last blog talked about nutrition needed to fight cancer. Today, I want to discuss certain foods or the way certain foods are made, as causes of cancer! Ultimately, anything we ingest does affect our bodies- one way or the other!

A lot of foods or rather “junk food” that we eat nowadays lack the basic nutrients like fiber and vitamins. They may have more appeal but studies have associated these with several diseases including cancer. But our fast lives have given ourselves an excuse of not cooking at home and indulging in bad habits. Corporate pressure, competition and tendency to extract more and more from ourselves: these habits have tired and stressed us so much that we don’t care to prioritize on eating healthy food. After dealing with day to day cat and mouse race, we are so overwhelmed that “we don’t have time to cook”. We would rather bring home some junk food or order food at the convenience of our smart phones and sofa couches.

Statistics have shown that 1 out of 3 Americans eat fast food every day. Fast food has been associated with increased evidence of obesity, cardiovascular conditions and diabetes. Obesity is a big risk factor to develop cancer.

Genetically modified foods

These foods are derived from plants which are genetically modified to withstand weather extremities, to develop resistance to pests and make them stronger to adapt to other adversities. Although there are no conclusive studies, but there are a lot of concerns whether these foods cause cancer or not! But then I also wonder that some drugs too, after decades, are found to cause detrimental effects which are not known in the beginning. Vioxx, for example, a very useful drug for arthritis and pain, was later found to cause stroke. A recent example is sudden recalls of Valsartan, Losartan, Ranitidine because they all have traces of impurity called NDMA, which is a carcinogen. So who knows, a decade later, these genetically modified foods may be found to cause something that hasn’t been found yet! Scary, isn’t it?

I wonder why are plants genetically modified! Isn’t natural way of producing crops enough for the expanding population? Or do we consume more than needed? Or is it the corporate greed to produce foods all around the year even if it may not be the right season to grow a crop?

Processed foods or “junk food”

Source: Unsplash

The more fresh the food is, the healthier it is. It has become too difficult for families to make fresh food every day. So preserved foods have been the norm these days! The various preservatives used can accumulate if these are consumed every day. Nitrates and nitrites, used as preservatives have been found as carcinogens. Additives like colors, flavors and sweeteners might make the food tastier and more attractive. But studies have shown association with mass consumption of these foods and cancer, particularly breast cancer, leukemias and even brain cancer. Besides, over consumption of processed foods may lead to obesity, cardiovascular, diabetes and metabolic disorders which all become risk factors for cancer, particularly obesity.

In order to reduce loss of crops from weeds and increased productivity, crops have been treated with excessive amounts of pesticides. All of these pesticides are nothing but CARCINOGENS! This practice is another example of human greed. Studies have shown that excessive pesticides are not only harmful to humans but also adversely affect the fertility of soil. The good bacteria in the soil needed for organic growth of crops are killed by these pesticides!

Limit consumption of sodas and coffee! Let me save this discussion for another day because I can write pages on this issue…!



In general, any food that has more saturated and trans fatty acids is harmful. Red meat (beef, pork and lamb) is an example of such food. Some of the other meat/chicken items that should not be consumed in excess are chicken nuggets, bacon, corned beef, duck. All these have long chain hydrocarbons, more saturated and trans fat which cause cardiovascular problems, diabetes and obesity which is a huge risk factor for cancer. Colon cancer is associated with too much consumption of red meat.

“People who eat 50 grams of processed meat a day have a 1.18 times higher risk of cancer than those who don’t eat meat. Contrast that to smokers, who have a 20 times higher risk of developing cancer than nonsmokers. This is a far greater danger than the 18 percent increased risk for cancer associated with processed meats,” Dr. Toni Brayer (M.D., an internist with the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation) says. We all agree that smoking is worse than eating meat but the point conveyed here is “people eating processed meats have 18% higher risk than those who don’t eat meat at all”.

Over-cooking is bad

Over cooking not only denatures proteins, vitamins and other useful nutrients, but also produces acrylamide, a carcinogen. Read more at:

“A common chemical caused by frying, roasting or grilling can double the risk of cancer in women,” The Daily Telegraph reported today. The story warns that acrylamide, a chemical contained in cooked foods including bread, coffee and breakfast cereals, and meat and potatoes that have been fried, baked, roasted, grilled or barbecued, has been directly linked to the incidence of ovarian and womb cancer.”

Moral of the story

  • Practice moderation- consuming too much of anything is harmful. Drinking too much water is also harmful….yes it’s true. We must set a limit for everything in and around us!
  • Avoid genetically modified foods. Read the labels for “Non GMO”. If possible, buy organic foods. Yes they are expensive but not as expensive as compared to acquiring dreadful diseases.
  • Avoid over-cooking
  • Avoid red meat and chicken nuggets
  • Wash fruits and vegetables gently with water to remove pesticides and dirt. Do not eat anything before washing.
  • Do not rely on junk food on a regular basis. Home made food is always fresh and healthier!

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Published by Glucocious

The goal of “Pharmacist4U” blog channel “Over the Counter” is to create a social awareness of the several issues related to drugs, treatments and the healthcare system, overall. Our dream is to reach millions of patients out there who may have questions or concerns regarding their treatments, medications, costs or resources for help. We promise to find you the best solution or resolution through our blogs. If needed, a personal consultation can also be arranged to provide our readers with the help they need.

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