Monday, February 28, 2011

Cancers and diet: Take 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily to ward off cancers

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb 28: Daily intake of 400 grams of fruits and vegetables will protect people from a number of cancers linked to diet.

According to Dr B Sesikeran, director of the National Institute of Nutrition, one should consume large quantities of fruits and vegetables and avoid dietary supplements sold in the market. "Fresh fruits and vegetables prevent formation of cancers of mouth, throat, food pipe, stomach, large intestine, breast, uterus and prostate glands. But dietary supplements obtained from fruits and vegetables will in fact increase the risk of these cancers," he said.

Dr Sesikeran was delivering a popular lecture at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology to mark the national science day here on Monday. He said 30 per cent of cancers can be prevented by regulating diet and increased physical activity. "There are cancers like blood cancer that are genetic in nature. We cannot do much about them. Cancer of cervix is linked to a virus. However, cancers linked to diet can be prevented," he said.

Stating that about 25 per cent of Indians are inactive without any physical activity, Dr Sesikeran said those with higher physical activity were at less risk of cancers. Inclusion of onions and garlic in food will reduce the risk of stomach cancer while carrot can prevent lung cancer. Large intake of fruits will reduce the risk of lung cancer, while tomato prevents prostate cancer.

He cautioned people against taking ready-made dietary supplements like carotenoids (extracted from carrot) and lycopene (extracted from tomato) as they actually increase the risk of cancers. "Take the whole fruit or vegetable. Do not go in for ready-made chemical dietary supplements and reduce the salt intake. Most of the salt comes from restaurant or preserved foods," he warned.

Referring to cancers in women, Dr Sesikeran said post-menopausal women, who put on five kgs of weight, are more at risk of endometrial cancer, while women, who breast-feed their children, are at low risk of contacting breast cancer. "Taller women are at greater risk of breast cancer," he added.

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