It’s becoming extremely difficult to choose a diet that will ensure our good health now that researchers and scientists keep discovering new food stuffs that are likely to give you cancer or possibly prevent it. The latest headlines claim that potatoes, cauliflower and cabbage help to cut the risk of stomach cancer, whereas beer, spirits, salt and preserved food raise the risk of developing the disease according to a study by Chinese scientists.
Stomach cancer accounts for around 13 deaths every day in Britain. Scientists found that people who ate large amounts of white vegetables were a third less likely to develop the cancer than those who largely avoided them. Fruit and green yellow vegetables such as cabbage, kale and celery also seem to have a protective effect.
The key nutrient is thought to be vitamin C, normally taken to strengthen the body system to avoid catching a cold and is now seen to act as an antioxidant to cut down cellular stress in the stomach, as well as fighting a bacterium widely blamed for causing gastric cancer. By some estimates potatoes are the UK’s most common source of the vitamin, although they don’t feature on the NHS’s 5-a-day list of fruit and vegetables.
Epidemiologists at Zhejiang University in China filtered down the scientific literature on diet and stomach cancer to find the 76 best studies which involved more than 6.3 million people and almost 33,000 deaths from the disease. They found that for every 100 gm of fruit a person ate each day – roughly equivalent to half an apple – he or she was 5 per cent less likely to develop stomach cancer. Each daily 50mg of vitamin C – approximately two potatoes’ worth – brought the list down by 8 per cent.
Salt, however, drove the risk up by 12 per cent for every 5 gm teaspoon a person consumed each day. Alcohol in general was bad, although wine appeared to make no difference at all. Pickled vegetables, liver and spinach also seemed to make the disease slightly more likely when eaten in excess.
The absolute odds of getting stomach cancer are lower in the UK, with 1 in 64 men and 1 in 120 women diagnosed with the condition over the course of their lifestyle. In 2012, there were almost 7,000 new cases of stomach cancer and 4,800 deaths. Although it remains one of the world’s most common cancers, it is on the decline in rich countries such as Britain possibly because, with the advent of refrigeration, people can eat more fresh food.
Since I’m not averse to Chinese medicine I’m more inclined to believe their research. Their experience with medicine must go back thousands of years, much before our Western civilization developed medicine where it is now.
Good old China is vastly moving into every sphere, to remind the world that they have a lot to offer.