Cancers and unhealthy eating


There is strong evidence that what we eat and drink can play a role in the risk of cancer, including hepatocellular carcinoma. There is an undeniable link between obesity, type 2 diabetes, and the risk of developing cancer. Healthier diets have been found to prevent at least 1 in 20 cancers.

Obesity is now considered an epidemic in India, and dietary management of obesity is essential in addressing the risk factors associated with cancer development, including liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). Mainly, high sugar diets, also known as sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), are one of the largest sources of added sugar and a major contributor to obesity.

SSBs include processed foods such as sodas, flavored juice drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, coffee drinks, energy drinks, and electrolyte replacement drinks. A new study from the US estimates that limiting the consumption of SSBs alone could prevent around 17,000 new obesity-associated cancer cases and 10,000 cancer deaths from 13 types of cancer. The largest health benefits were found for endometrial, kidney, and liver cancer.

Most countries in the world, having realized the importance of making consumers aware of what they could potentially be consuming, have started using nutrition and warning labels on many food and drink products. This has encouraged consumers to adopt better and healthier eating and drinking habits.

Consumer behavior studies have indicated that health warnings can discourage the purchase of foods high in sugars and fats. This can significantly reduce the incidence of obesity.

A new simulation study reveals that using health warnings on SSBs could reduce average SSB intake by about 25 calories per day and total calorie intake by about 30 calories per day. These dietary changes could reduce the average body mass index by about 0.6 kg/m2 over 5 years—equivalent to losing about 2 kg for the average adult.

Another important negative impact of what we eat and drink is, of course, the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is notorious for adversely affecting almost all parts of our body, including the liver. Consuming plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and vegetable oils in the diet over 20 years has been found to have a 60% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. A new finding suggests that higher intakes of vitamins B2 and B6 from foods or supplements lower the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Western countries have taken a more aggressive approach by increasing taxes on sugar and sugar products. In July 2017, India also announced its intent to reduce the intake of sugary drinks by placing them in the highest goods and services tax bracket of 28%. This SSB tax is expected to help prevent obesity in 11.2 million Indians and type-2 diabetes in 400,000 people from 2014-2023. Sugar-related diseases can reduce direct medical costs as well as the loss of industry productivity costs. Therefore, both the government and the industry should develop a joint working formula to reduce the national disease burden and healthcare costs. As the general public, we should be aware of the serious adverse effects of sugar and obesity and adopt a healthy lifestyle for a secure future. Timely diagnosis of cancer is crucial for successful treatment and management. If you are concerned about cancer, it is advisable to consult with an oncologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of various types of cancer.

If you have any concerns or would like to consult with an oncologist, book an appointment now to prioritize your health and well-being.

To Enquire Now, Call at (040)-2349-1000.

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