Literatus: Dietary risk factors for stomach cancer

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

THE dietary risk factors for stomach cancer I would be mentioning may also be true to other forms of cancer with certain biological variations.

Two researchers at the post-graduate program in gastroenterology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brazil) discussed these factors in their report published in the Archive of Gastroenterology (July/September 2012 issue). Aline Gamarra Taborada and Joao Carlos Prolla found four.

Salty diet presents a very high risk for gastric cancer. The duo noted that 55 percent of patients with intestinal metaplasia (gastric intestinal metaplasia or IM) rated their salt consumption as moderate. Another study (Dias-Neto and colleagues) in 2010 (published in Nutritional Cancer) found in their review of many previous studies on the subject that 55.4 percent of patients moderately consuming salty foods had gastric IM. Those who preferred salted food, 76.8 percent of them had intestinal metaplasia.

These studies found abnormal presence of sodium (salt is chemically sodium chloride) in the urine.

Smoked food, including cured meats and other foods preserved with salt, also significantly increased risk in developing gastric IM when eaten in high frequency.

Foods with high nitrate content also posed a moderate risk in causing stomach cancer.

Its mechanism of poisoning the body, however, tells that it may not result merely in gastric cancer, but other cancer forms as well. Three studies—the Lazarevic study in 2010; the Nouraie study in 2005; the Talley study in 1999—confirmed nitrate’s toxic mechanism.

One mechanism involved the action of bacteria in the intestines in converting nitrates into a cancer-producing form of nitrate, called “nitrite.” Nitrite, when it enters the bloodstream, is poisonous particularly to the liver. High frequency of intake of nitrate, nitrite and meats preserved with nitrite doubles the risk of stomach cancer.

Preserved meats, including canned meats, contain nitrite as preservative. Just check the label in your supermarket and you will see nitrite in it.

Dyed food poses another risk for gastric cancer. The risk apparently came from the dyes used in coloring food. This information, however, remains controversial as many food colors received food-grade approval from the US Food & Drug Authority; while certain food colors continued to be banned from use in food due to at least their potential toxicity when consumption.

However, foods that lower the risk for stomach cancer include citrus fruits, green vegetables (both fresh; not processed) and bread with high-fiber content.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 11, 2013.


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