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February 6, 2019

People urged to avoid processed food for cancer prevention

Karachi

February 6, 2019

Living a simple life with regular exercise, eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, having a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, and avoiding tobacco, alcohol and processed meat are some of the habits that help in cancer prevention, according to leading oncologists (cancer specialists).

They were addressing an awareness seminar held at the Liaquat National Hospital (LNH) in connection with World Cancer Day on Monday.

They said that becoming as lean as possible without losing weight, avoiding obesity through diet control and regular exercise, keeping away from all kinds of processed food, including meat, carbonated drinks, tobacco, alcohol and drugs reduce the chances of having different types of cancers by 50 per cent.

LNH oncology department head Dr Naila Zahid said that 30 to 50 per cent cancers are preventable, while 90 per cent can be cured. She said people can live normal lives if their cancers are diagnosed in the early stages, adding that by avoiding some known risk factors, cancer prevention is possible to a large extent.

“Instead of living an artificial life, live a simple life by being closer to nature. Avoiding environmental pollution, exposure to chemicals, especially asbestos, tobacco and other carcinogens can help in cancer prevention,” said Dr Naila, and urged people, especially women, to start physical activity in the form of exercise or sports to minimise the risk of cancers.

Myths busted

“Biopsy doesn’t result in the spread of cancers. Instead, it’s a life-saving procedure and a diagnostic tool that helps in the early detection of cancers and in starting timely treatment so that the cancers can be eliminated,” she clarified.

She said that there is no truth in the idea that cancer cells become out of control if touched by metallic objects. She also rejected the impressions that plastics and mobile phones cause cancers.

She said research proves that eating in plastic containers and drinking water through plastic bottles is safe, but she advised people not to use plastic containers for heating food in microwave ovens.

Dr Naila also rejected the rumours that deodorants, antiperspirants, hair dyes and lipsticks cause cancers, saying that people should use good quality products because reputed companies use chemicals that are safer and have no link to cancer-causing agents.

Speaking on the importance of screening and early detection of cancers, she said that 90 per cent of the people can be completely cured if their diseases are detected in the initial stages. She added that vaccinations against hepatitis B and HPV can also prevent liver and cervical cancers.

100-150 min. exercise

Another oncologist, Dr Sobia Tabassum, said that living a healthy life with 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 100 minutes of rigorous exercise a week, eating healthy food, including lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products and avoiding tobacco, processed and red meat as well as alcohol prevents people from getting cancers.

“International guidelines and research show that those who eat plant-based foods, exercise on a daily basis and avoid sugary drinks, processed meat, tobacco and alcohol are less likely to have different types of cancers.”

Cancers of lungs, head, neck, breast, cervix, liver and colon can be prevented by avoiding smoking as well as eating Paan, Gutka and Chhalia, and by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, getting vaccinated against preventable diseases and exercising for six days a week, she concluded.

Other experts, including Dr Javeria Shoaib, Dr Navaira Ali and Dr Hira Khan Afridi, also spoke to the participants of the seminar, while the cancer survivors in attendance shared their views and experiences in their respective fights against their diseases.

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