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Nutrition and cancer

By RONALD DELOS REYES / Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
September 21, 2012

CEBU CITY  –  “We are what we eat” is a worn-out cliché. As simple as it may sound, but it has become difficult for us to make wise decisions concerning our diet, especially when our days are packed.

One of the health diseases that our diet could be a contributing factor of is cancer. Cancer is the third leading cause of death in the country. Often, we equate cancer with helplessness and death but the truth is, cancer can be prevented and the first step is to adopt a healthy diet.

Cancer development depends on family history (genetics), health, nutrition, personal habits, and the environment. But among these causes, healthy diet tops the list in cancer prevention. What we take in for everyday nourishment is the major key to a healthy life.

Nowadays, we mostly eat fatty food like pork and chicken skin, which can increase risk of cancer. Our bodies require a certain amount of fat but an excess of it can be harmful to the body. A high-fat diet tends to be higher in calories and may increase the risk to become overweight or obese, and develop cancer.

We should eat food that are rich in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables, for they lower the risk of developing cancer. Antioxidants act as protective agents of the cells in the body. Foods rich in Vitamin D and protein also aid in blocking cancer-causing chemicals.

Cancers that are linked to certain habits are the easiest ways to prevent, such as those caused by tobacco or cigarette smoking.

We all know that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of cancer. A cigarette contains 100 chemicals and most of them are carcinogenic or cancer-causing.

Also, we should be aware of "secondhand smoke" because there are more carcinogenic chemicals present upon our inhalation. When our bodies are exposed to these carcinogens, our body cells are damaged to a certain extent and their normal function affected.

Alcohol beverages must be taken in moderation. Our alcohol consumption can significantly expose us to acquiring several types of cancer – lung, throat, mouth, and liver cancer.

In preventing cancer, a healthy diet and lifestyle should be coupled with early detection of the disease. Some of the symptoms of cancer do not appear in the early stage. Regular screenings and checkups enable us to be updated on any irregularities happening in our bodies. These can help us in detecting any health diseases at an early stage.

Women should do monthly breast self-examination (BSE) for early detection of lumps surrounding the breasts. Women 40 years old and up should undergo annual clinical breast examination, especially those who have a family history of such type of cancer.

Childhood cancer, however, cannot be prevented.

The reality is, as more and more children are diagnosed and will likely survive with cancer, it is increasingly important to address ongoing and emerging needs of the child and their family to achieve complete and long-term healing.

In Metro Cebu, the Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center (EJACC) of Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) offer services for cancer prevention. These include lectures on cancer-related topics and free screenings and diagnostics for patients in Cebu. It also provides assistance for treatment of cancer in early stages and last cycle of chemotherapy treatment, as well as psycho-social support.

EJACC also offer services such as mammography, biopsy, and other tumor markers to help in the early detection of cancer, surgical assistance for our patients in the early stages of cancer, and post-operative follow-ups.

Through the Kahayag Network of Cancer Support Groups, cancer patients and survivors are offered psychological support, through activities like cooking demos, fitness programs, and meditation.

The need of patients for understanding in their struggles they have been through requires the full attention of the family. Thus, family members should provide an environment where the patient can express his/her ill-feelings and uncertainties.

A network among cancer patients and survivors is our way of promoting the idea that even people afflicted with the disease can live normal and healthy lives.

EJACC urges the public to fight against the disease through healthy living, early detection, and other preventive measures.