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Personal Diet and Wellness Potential Causes and Preventative Measures for

Cancer
Salamasina Fitisemanu
April 7, 2017
Cancer is defined as, the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in
a part of the body. As it is very common but nonetheless, very destructive, cancer is the second
leading cause of death in the United States and accounts for well over 500,000 deaths annually in
the United States alone. There are over 100 different types of cancer that account for the 12.7
million cases that are found/encountered every year and the 7.6 million recorded deaths
throughout the world. Being that there are, universally, so many different cases and types of
cancer, there are bound to be numerous causes, both internally and externally, of such a
devastating disease. Here in the United States, drastically more than in other under-developed
countries to which are not exposed much globalization of packaged and preserved food items and
such, there exists a common diet that is comprised of much more processed foods. It is for this
exact reason that diet as well as personal health and wellness related causes of cancer have
collectively elevated in societal awareness and significance and thus, have recently been
explored much more throughout the United States. However, in an effort to battle these
commonly introduced carcinogens, there has proven to be much that can be done specifically
pertaining to personal diet, health and wellness, as well.
One of such rising concerns over diet and its cancerous implications regards meat
specifically processed meats as in hot dogs, salami, bacon, corned beef, canned lunch meat and
other forms of sausages. Many domestic as well as international agencies have deemed processed
meats a carcinogen, or something that causes cancer. Denis Corpet, an individual who has
researched the contributions of diet in cancer at the University of Toulouse in France has said,
Surveys started to show that countries that eat a lot of meat see more colorectal cancer than
countries where people eat very little. On account of the collectively meat-rich diet here in the
United States, there is much to be wary of. The qualifications of such a carcinogen are described
by the International Agency for Research on Cancer claiming, It refers to meat that has been
treated in some way to preserve or flavor it. Processes include salting, curing, fermenting, and
smoking. The statistical evidence for the claims concluded by twenty-two experts from 10
countries, who reviewed more than 800 studies include, but are not necessarily limited to,
eating 50 grams of processed meat every day increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
Thats the equivalent of about 4 strips of bacon or 1 hot dog. With all of this evidence, it is easy
to draw correlation between meats and cancer, especially colorectal, which refers to the colon
and rectum. However, then comes the question of the causation regarding cancer. The causes for
these potentially cancer-making compounds is likely found in the implementation of nitrates and
nitrites, which can bond with other chemical compounds already found in the body and create
new compounds known as nitrosamines; nitro refers to the nitrate/nitrite and amine referring to
an amine group. These compounds are carcinogenic. In fact, these nitrosamines are also found in
other common things like rubber products and pesticides, which might also raise additional
health concerns in other areas. Thus, it is the compounds found in the preservatives used in the
processing of these meats that introduce their respective carcinogenic nature. Based on both the
correlative and causative evidence, it is clear to see why millions of Americans are very
concerned about ingesting processed meats and the potential levels of risk regarding various
forms of cancer that they actually introduce throughout the country.
An additional concern in connection with diet and its role in presenting risk and often
causing cancer is that of additives and contaminants. First off, the American Cancer Society
medical and editorial content team presents additives as a term referring to substances that are
added to foods to prolong shelf and storage life and to enhance color, flavor, and texture. These
additives, though they are actually intended to make food products more appealing to people as
consumers, in many ways, fundamentally compromise nutritional value and integrity by
introducing carcinogenic substances and compounds, as well. These additives can be presented
both directly and indirectly into food items. In a direct sense, additives may be implemented as
vitamins and other chemical compounds that are mixed into foods that are packaged or canned.
In an indirect sense, the ACS medical content team also states that additives can become
integrated into food by way of growth hormones or antibiotics used in animal farming, small
amounts of pesticides and herbicides in plant-based foods, and compounds such as bisphenol A
(BPA) or phthalates that enter food from packaging. These additives that are introduced both
directly and indirectly can modify processes in the body, particularly in modification of
hormones and hormone-like processes. Hormonal modification can cause the body to react
differently to substances and cause the body to produce unnecessary substances or inhibit the
production of essential substances. This can increase risk and make an individual or certain
organs or systems within the individual more susceptible to cancer. Secondly, contaminants can,
in a very similar manner to the indirect impactful process of additives, create increased risk and
vulnerability to cancer. Contaminants of ones diet may include, but are not necessarily limited
to, other inherently harmful chemical compounds and metals that are not and cannot be used in
human biological functions. These substances can be found in natural resources that are needed
to produce food, like soil or in water supplies. If these are not monitored or controlled, they can
have the same effect as in indirect additives. The carcinogenic nature and potential subsequent
impact of additives and contaminants is irrefutably significant, especially in such an
industrialized country accompanied with a very processed, preserved and inorganically
compromised diet.
In a collective, yet personal effort to battle risk presented by the previously-mentioned
diet-related carcinogens, there are many preventative measures that can be taken. Most of these
precautionary procedures have to do with essentially establishing a generally healthy lifestyle.
One of the aspects of lifestyle that often correlates with cancer prevention is weight
management. The Lancet, a medical journal based in the United Kingdom, conducted a study in
2014 that concluded, higher body mass index increases the risk of developing some of the most
common cancers. It was found that, among five million people studied, gain of 34 pounds was
linked with a 10% or higher risk for colon, gallbladder, kidney, and liver cancers. The causation
of such risk lie within the concept that with the increased amounts of body fat, the production of
hormones and inflammatory proteins that can promote tumor cell growth also increases,
consequently raising the risk of various cancer forms. Thus, by maintaining a healthy weight,
according to body mass index and/or other weight indexes, one can also limit their exposure to
excessive cancer-related risk.
Another aspect of personal health and wellness that could also be taken as a preventative
measure for cancer is that of monitoring ones glycemic index. The glycemic index or GI is a
measure of an individuals carbohydrate intake as well as glucose levels. According to a study
conducted by Xifeng Wu MD, PHD, recorded by The American Association for Cancer Research
in March of 2016, those in the highest quintile of GI had a 49 percent greater risk for
developing lung cancer than those in the lowest quintile. Compared with those in the lowest
quintile of GI, those in the highest quintile had a 92 percent higher risk. The causation
pertaining to GI and lung cancer is found in the fact that diets with higher GI levels bring about
greater levels of blood glucose and insulin, which further glucose intolerance and insulin
resistance. Insulin resistance is connected with changes in the bodys insulin-like growth factors,
which play a role in cell division and differentiation. The potential changes in cell division and
specialization leave room for vulnerability to mutation and thus, introduce cancer. Subsequently,
by keeping track of and maintaining lower glycemic index levels, one can prevent impact from
increased risk of cancer.
Cancer, on account of its hundreds of forms and millions of cases, may in fact be one of
the most difficult and complex diseases that plague the world in this day in age. Nevertheless, in
coming to understand some of the causes that introduce significant amounts of risk, and
proceeding to implement preventative measures, one can take various precautions pertaining to
their own individual exposure to carcinogenic substances. If Harvard Health Publications has
concluded that less than 30% of a person's lifetime risk of getting cancer results from
uncontrollable factors, then, by understanding the implications and applying protections
regarding personal diet and wellness, The rest you have the power to change.
Literature Cited

American Association for Cancer Research. (2016, March 4). High Glycemic Index Associated
with Increased Risk of Lung Cancer. American Association for Cancer Reasearch. Retrieved
April 07, 2017

American Cancer Society Medical and Editorial Content Team. (2016, February 5). Food
additives, safety, and organic foods. The American Cancer Society. Retrieved April 07, 2017

American Cancer Society Medical and Editorial Content Team. (2015, October 26). World
Health Organization Says Processed Meat Causes Cancer. The American Cancer Society.
Retrieved April 07, 2017

Ehrenberg, R. (2016, March 06). Eating meat officially raises cancer risk. Science News.
Retrieved April 07, 2017

Geddes, L. (2015, January 21). Let them eat steak: How to eat meat the healthy way. New
Scientist. Retrieved April 07, 2017

Harvard Health Publications (2016, September). Cancer and diet: What's the connection?
Harvard Medical School. Retrieved April 07, 2017

Neal, M. (2011, February 04). World Cancer Day: 340,000 Cases of Cancer a Year in The U.S.
Could Be Prevented. Huffington Post. Retrieved April 07, 2017