What Are Carcinogens?
Cancer is a scary reality. It is a term used to define multiple diseases that affect the growth of cells. The abnormal growth and increase of cells in the body can lead to the development of tumors. This might eventually lead to the development of certain cancers.
Some might say there is no concrete cause of cancer. However, there are food additives, particles, chemicals, and so on that are known carcinogens. And there are steps people can take to limit the chance of developing the disease, including living an active and healthy lifestyle.
The most important of these steps is to avoid carcinogens which can substantially decrease the chances of ever having cancer.
Carcinogens are certain chemical or biological compounds that are capable of causing cancer and are known to cause cancer in laboratory testing on rats and mice. These compounds appear in our daily lives so it is very important to know how to avoid them.
Certain foods that you might be consuming daily are packed full of harmful carcinogens resulting in slowly diminishing your health. By avoiding a few foods, you can significantly lower the amount of cancer-causing chemicals entering your body.
However, large quantities of red meats including beef, pork, veal, and lamb have been classified as carcinogenic and can be significantly harmful to a cell’s life.
Limiting the amount of red meat decreases your carcinogenic intake. Eating lean, organic meat that is NOT grown with the use of antibiotics and steroids, and GMO grains is your best solution. Also, limit the number of times you eat red meat each week to only once or twice at the most. I know….ouch! But really, think about all the food you like. Balance it out throughout the week. You can do it!
By definition, processed meats are cured with the addition of preservatives and/or other additives.
Avoid processed meats that are preserved with Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate. This includes all traditional cold cuts (deli meats like salami, pepperoni, turkey, and ham), hot dogs, sausage(s), kielbasas, frankfurts, bacon, Slim Jim’s (including knockoffs), and jerky.
Sodium Nitrates and Nitrites have been known as a carcinogen for decades.
These meats have been classified as Group 1 Carcinogens, which according to the Cancer Council NSW spokesperson Clare Hughes, is an indicator that processed meats should be avoided at all costs otherwise there is a large prevalence for the development of cancer.
According to the International Agency for the Research of Cancer (IARC), these are probably carcinogenic to humans. Probably? Well, that word is just legal-speak for yes, they are carcinogens but we do not want to be legally liable. Besides, “probably” used in conjunction with cancer is good enough for me to sit up and take heed. What do you think?
And it’s not only about what you eat or don’t eat but also how you prepare your food.
For example, fresh seasonal vegetables are full of healthy micronutrients and are a perfect snack alternative to chips during a BBQ cookout. But grilling vegetables over an open flame could lead to the vegetable taking on carcinogenic (causing cancer) properties. As a rule of thumb, avoid burning food on a grill or heavily barbecuing them. The black marks left on the food are extremely dangerous and can promote irregular growth of cells in your body.
We all know smoking cigarettes causes cancer, big surprise! Of course, what many don’t know is that tobacco itself is not carcinogenic, rather it is the way the tobacco leaves are treated then dried and used in cigarettes.
The chemical treatments that tobacco leaves go through significantly deter its natural form and create a carcinogenic poison. This poison, when smoked, can cause lung, throat, pancreatic, and other cancers. A recent report showed that 90% of all reported lung cancer cases are in heavy smokers. It’s safe to say you should avoid smoking.
Like processed meats, alcohol is also classified as a Group 1 Carcinogen. In fact, a study showed that in Australia 3,200 cases of cancer were directly connected with the consumption of alcohol.
Alcohol damages the lining of organs like the liver, kidney, and bowels. The irregular growth of cells in these linings encourages the development of particular cancers.
And if you rely on the information presented by the alcohol industry…well don’t. A study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concluded that the alcohol industry appears to be engaged in the extensive misrepresentation of evidence about the correlation of drinking alcohol and the risk of getting cancer. These activities have parallels with those of the tobacco industry.
For more information about the alcohol industry misrepresentation of the facts about drinking and cancer, read Alcohol Increases Cancer Risk, But Don’t Trust the Booze Industry to Give You the Facts Straight.
Of course, we need the essential Vitamin D from the sun, but prolonged exposure with no protection like sunblock and sunglasses can be dangerous and harmful to your health.
Sunburns can lead to cancer.
What Can You Do?
Solutions are at hand. Continue to educate yourself about the causes of cancer and what you can do to reduce the risks.
You have many healthy options that are just as good, sometimes better even, than the choices you currently make.
Be open to new experiences and a healthier way of eating. You should find that you actually are enjoying the different types of food and healthier habits since you will feel better.
So, it seems there’s not much left for the Super Bowl party! Yet, there really is.
Through modifying your food selection you can eat healthily and still have food you like. Follow these 10 guidelines to eating healthier while continuing to enjoy the food you eat:
- Everything in moderation. Once in a while as a treat is better than every day. Use your favorite “bad” foods as a once-in-a-while reward rather than a regiment.
- Select natural, non-GMO food.
- Select organic if possible.
- Choose unprocessed lean red meat. The Cancer Council recommends 65–100 g of cooked lean red meat, 3–4 times a week.
- Eat wild-caught fish NOT farm-raised. For salmon, select Alaskan salmon or sockeye salmon NOT Atlantic salmon.
- Eat chicken.
- Read labels. Many traditionally processed meat is now being produced without harmful chemicals, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs. Select these. They taste great and are much healthier in many ways.
- Add vegetables to each meal. After adjusting your diet, you might actually realize you enjoy the taste of fresh, organic vegetables.
- Decrease your white sugar intake by using natural ingredients like honey, rice syrup, and maple syrup.
- Try new recipes. You might find some that you actually like better than those cooked on “the grill”.
First, you must make up your mind that you are going to quit. Make a list of all the great reasons you MUST quit—children, grandchildren, family, husband, wife, longevity…whatever is your inspiration.
Make an Inspiration Board with pictures to remind you why you must quit smoking. Look at it as often as you need so you do not light up. Take a picture of it to carry with you while you are out and about. Pull it out and reference it whenever you “need” a smoke.
Join a support program, get a sponsor to call when the going gets rough!
Believe you can stop Smoking. Take it day by day.
Some forms of alcohol, in moderation, are good for your health. For example, red wine is thought to be an anti-oxidant and blackberry brandy has often been used to fend off winter colds. Alcohol does have health and medicinal uses when administered appropriately.
Follow these guidelines to decrease your risk of developing cancer from drinking alcohol:
- Moderation is key. Have one relaxing drink as a reward after a particularly difficult day or after finishing a major project.
- Drink occasionally.
- When in a social setting requiring the appearance of alcohol, you can:
- Pull the waitress aside and explain that you want the fact that you are not drinking to be kept quiet. Have a soda instead. A simple glass of coke looks like a rum and coke.
- Have one drink and nurse it. Switch to soda or water after you have finished it. If questioned, explain you are not comfortable drinking and driving or you would rather drive a friend who has been drinking home.
- Politely explain that you do not drink alcohol. It is not a social requirement that you drink and is socially acceptable if you do not. You may find that others in your circle also do not.
- If the urge to get drunk is in your DNA, limit it to once or twice a year, on special occasions and only when you are at home or have a sober designated driver.
- Drinking occasionally also includes wine. While a glass of red wine might be health-beneficial, the whole bottle in a day is not. Limit your intake.
- Have questions…discuss your alcohol intake with your doctor.
While the sun is a great source of Vitamin D. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. Regular sun exposure is the most natural way to get vitamin D.
However, you do not want to get sunburnt due to being exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
For extended periods of time in the sun, make sure to use the recommended Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating for your skin type, wear sunglasses, and if you are very sensitive wear a large brimmed hat and light-weight cotton clothing so you do not get a sunburn. Follow these guidelines for Vitamin D synthesis from the sun while achieving maximum safety:
- Get 10–30 minutes of midday (noon) sunlight, several times per week. (At midday, the sun is at its highest point and its UVB rays are most intense meaning you need less time in the sun to make sufficient vitamin D.)
- Darker skin requires more total time in the sun—30 minutes to three hours. The darker your skin the more melanin you have. Melanin helps protect the skin against damage from excess sunlight, acting as a natural sunscreen, so you need more time in the sun to synthesize Vitamin D.
- Your exposure time also depends on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight. More sensitive, less time.
- How far you live from the equator. For example, people who live farther away from the equator typically need more sunlight because the sun’s UV rays are weaker.
- After the appropriate time in the sun for your skin type and location, if you are planning on staying in the sun for a while, apply sunscreen to help prevent sunburn and skin cancer.
- Expose more of your skin to sunlight so you synthesis Vitamin D quicker with less time exposed to the sun.
- Take vitamin D supplements or eat more vitamin-D-rich foods during the winter months, since synthesis from sunlight is very low during this time.
Radiation exposure comes from x-rays, CTs (computed tomography), fluoroscopy procedures (such as barium enemas/drinks and coronary angioplasty/stent placement), and medical isotopes (such as thyroid and bone scans).
Limit the number of these procedures to the minimal amount that is safe for your overall health. Discuss any concerns you have with your doctor.
With the number of cancer cases exponentially growing (4,754 people per day are diagnosed with cancer and 1,670 people per day die of cancer as estimated for 2018) you should seriously think about what food you do or do not want to eat.
Is enjoying hotdogs really worth the risk of possibly getting cancer? Is grilled food really that cherishable? Can you go without alcohol or at least limit the number of drinks you have each week?
Think about it.
If you need reasons to quit whatever vice or food addiction you have that could lead to being diagnosed with cancer, visit a chemotherapy wing at the hospital or volunteer at a cancer clinic. It is an eye-opening experience.
Increasing your education about the causes of cancer helps you reduce the risk of getting cancer by allowing you to make healthier choices in your everyday life.
Check out the resources I use for information to help me make healthy choices that decrease my family’s chances of never being diagnosed with cancer.
If you do have cancer and have chosen to go through chemotherapy, check out Chemo Secrets below. Nalie Agustin provides real-life information and tips when going through chemo that is insightful and comforting.