Increasingly, there is scientific evidence that certain "fast" and processed foods could be carcinogenic.
Did you know that French fries and potato chips may be doing more than just clogging your arms and adding useless calories? A peer-reviewed study of acrylamide levels in these foods suggests that it is present in dangerous levels. Acrylamide, is a known carcinogen and neurotoxin that is formed when foods are baked or fried at high temperatures. The tests conducted by CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) on some popular brands of French fries and chips found that the acrylamide in fries was at least 300 times the amount allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a glass of water . In addition, the foods contained trans fats (artery-clogging fat that's been linked to raising bad cholesterol and lowering the good kind) that increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. "I estimate that acrylamide causes several thousand cancers per year in Americans," said Clark University research Professor Dale Hattis, in response to this study.
So why is an average American consuming 7 pounds of potato chips per year? (Source: A study from Washington State University and Bristol Meyers Corp). Plus, he / she is also consuming 756 donuts per year, have practically NO nutritional value, are loaded with sugar, refined flour and trans fat.
Worse, most such foods also come loaded with a variety of additives including corn syrup, preservatives and artificial flavors and colors. Yet an average American lasts to consume nearly 60 pounds of cakes and cookies per year! (Source: A study from Washington State University and Bristol Meyers Corp.)
Then there is the looming threat posed by colas and sodas, or what I call "liquid candy." An average 12-ounce can of soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories, 30 to 55 mg of caffeine, artificial food colors and sulfites. Diet sodas are even worse with artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, Saccharin and Splenda and near no tap water. Yet, in 2000, Americans spend $ 60 billion on carbonated soft drinks and billions more on non-carbonated "fruit" beverages. During the same year, the average American consumed more than 53 gallons of soft drinks. ( Source: National Soft Drink Association ).
"One of every four beverages consumed in America today is a soft-drink …" (Source: "Soft Drink Markets in 174 Countries Worldwide Documented," Beverage Marketing, press release, June 15, 2001.)
And if that's not enough, processed meats like these (and others including sausages, bacon, pepperoni and other processed meats) contain a carcinogenic precursor ingredient known as sodium nitrite (sodium nitrate is closely related) that's also heavily consumed.
"Sodium nitrite is a dangerous, cancer-causing ingredient that has no place in the human food supply," says nutritionist Mike Adams, author of the Grocery Warning Manual. A University of Hawaii study that followed nearly 200,000 people for seven years found that people who consumed the most processed meats (hot dogs and sausage) showed a 67% increased risk of pancreatic cancer over those who consumed little or no meat products.
In addition, the risk of colon cancer increases by 50% with long-term consumption of high amounts of processed meats such as hot dogs. ( Source: Journal of the American Medical Association; January 12, 2005; 293 (2): 172-182. )
Yet, the National Hot Dog Council estimates that over seven billion hot dogs were eaten by Americans between Memorial Day and Labor Day. During the July 4th weekend alone (the biggest hot-dog holiday of the year), 155 million were downed. Every year, Americans eat an average of 60-70 hot dogs each. ( Source: www.hot-dog.org ).
Further, cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Each year, more than 400,000 Americans die from cigarette smoking. In fact, one in every five deaths in the United States is smoking related. Every year, smoking kills more than 276,000 men and 142,000 women. In addition, between 1960 and 1990, death from lung cancer among women has increased by more than 400% -exceeding breast cancer deaths in the mid-1980s. The American Cancer Society estimated that in 1994, 64,300 women died from lung cancer and 44,300 died from breast cancer.
Men who smoke increase their risk of death from lung cancer by more than 22 times and from bronchitis and emphysema by nearly 10 times. Women who smoke increase their risk of dying from lung cancer by nearly 12 times and the risk of dying from bronchitis and emphysema by more than 10 times. Smoking triples the risk of dying from heart disease among middle-aged men and women.
Still worse, annually, exposure to secondhand smoke (or environmental tobacco smoke) causes an estimated 3,000 deaths from lung cancer among American adults. Scientific studies also link secondhand smoke with heart disease.
Remember if you sincerely avoid all these substances, and advice your patients accordingly, cancer would not remain such a dreaded word, after all.