Many have referred to cancer as a lifestyle disease, but is it? Well, according to the data from the Nairobi Registry 34000 Kenyans are diagnosed with cancer annually. There are various factors that lead to cancer, and our lifestyle is one of them.
The components of our diets determine our health. They may have all the food groups, but not necessarily in the right quantities. Researchers recommend on limiting sugary drinks, and processed carbohydrates, because the quality of carbohydrates in our diets matters for different reasons other than weight issues. Emphasis is placed on eating more grains and cholesterol free fats. They argue that frequentintake oflarge quantities of carbohydrates is one of the causes of cancer.
Of the leading cancercases are breast cancer among women, and prostate cancer among the men. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed and most deadly of cancers among women worldwide. In Africa, it is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. However, women whose diets emphasize on healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables and fruit are less likely to develop breast cancer. This explains why most of the breast cancer patients are found in urban areas, and not in the rural areas. Whole foodslike arrowroots, sweet potatoes, fresh vegetables and whole grains arequite costly in urban areas.This makesmaintaining healthy eating habits not easy. As a result, most frequently userefined carbohydrates like white bread and other baked goods which is not good for their health.
Prostate cancer is the leading cancer for men in Kenya. The levels of men being tested are low, due to the position that the test puts the patient. They feel that they are intrusive of their privacy. Those at a higher risk of developing this cancer are men who regularly drink sugary beverages like soda and alcohol. The percentages of those at risks are almost equal both in the urban and rural areas. However, despite the lifestyles of those in urban areas where intake of sugars is inevitable, they have better access to health facilities for check up, and treatment.
Thou there’s not much proof that sugary drinks directly contribute to prostate cancer, it is important to cut down on them. This is due to other health risks associated with high intake of sugars and carbohydrates, like obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, eliminating all sugars would harm the body cells as they need energy. Therefore, it is important to limit on foods with high amounts of sugar: take them with moderation.
Regulating the amount of carbohydrates we take is not enough. Having the right quality is equally important. This will help us reduce the risks of both breast and prostate cancers. The World Health Organization 2014 NCD Country profile indicated that in 2012, 28500 cancer deaths were reported. Majority of these deaths were breast and prostate cancers.
The statement, ‘you are what you eat’, may be cliché, but it is true. The lifestyles we lead, especially our eating habits determine our health. Being a healthy food freak won’t help much, but being mindful and disciplined will. Treat yourself to those French fries once in a while but do not take more soda/ alcohol than water. Include whole bread, pumpkins, more vegetables, fruits and other healthy carbohydrates in your diet. This will keep you more healthy, and reduce your chances of cancer.
Regular cancer screening is important considering that factors causing cancer are more than just the dietary considerations. So, even if you are diagnosed with either of the cancersdespite maintaining a healthy lifestyle, do not beat yourself up. At least you tried to prevent it, and you did your best. That matters.