Do you ever get hungry in the middle of the night? If you open your fridge, will you choose sausages, ham or bacon for your midnight snack? These processed red meats are convenient and tasty, and great late night comfort food. They are also must-have items for Honkongers for BBQs or hotpots. But just remember that: The World Health Organization has classified processed meat as a Class 1 carcinogen. So next time, instead of a tasty microwave-ready sausage, which would you choose?
Eating processed red meats can affect your colon…
Processed red meats such as sausages contain nitrates which are potentially carcinogenic. Nitrates are used to prevent botulinum, and they also give meat its pink color. But the downside is that when nitrates are consumed by humans, they can turn into carcinogenic N-nitroso-compounds. Some medical reports say that if you eat one sausage a day (approximately 50g of processed meat, your risk of having colorectal cancer increases by up to 18%.If you want to avoid that, and learn more, read our healthy tips below!
Could reduce the risk of getting colorectal cancer, but it’s only one of the factors…
There are lots of factors that might help you avoid colorectal cancer. Apart from eating less processed red meat, you could also pay attention to your everyday life and adopt better lifestyle habits.Learn and remember the healthy tips below, so you don’t need to worry about your colon!
What is colorectal cancer?
The colon is the last part of human digestive system, which includes the colon, the rectum and the anus. When there is abnormal growth of the cells on the walls of the bowel as a result of environmental or genetic factors, these can develop into polyps which can turn cancerous. This could take anything from 10 to 15 years. These cancerous cells can then invade and harm the organs nearby, and even spread to other parts in the body.
Since 2012, colorectal cancer has become the top most common cancer in Hong Kong, even overtaking breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and liver cancer. Based on cancer statistics evaluated by the Hong Kong Cancer Registry, in 2016 there were 5,437 new cases of colorectal cancer in Hong Kong, that’s on average more than 14 people being diagnosed with the problem every day.
Health tips to prevent colorectal cancer:
1）Eat less processed meat
Eat less red meat and processed food. The Department of Health says that consuming red meat increases the risk of colorectal and breast cancer, and processed food is closely related to colorectal cancer.
2）Eat more fiber
Eat more grains, beans, vegetables and fruits. Insufficient intake of dietary fiber is another of the main factors leading to colorectal cancer. We should consume at least two portions of fruit and three portions of vegetables every day. A portion is equal to approximately 80g.
3）Smoke less and drink less
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization has classified alcohol as a Class 1 carcinogen - in the same class as tobacco - which can cause colorectal cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer and other common cancers. Smoking not only causes lung cancer, but is also proven to lead to oral cancer, laryngeal cancer, tongue cancer, esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer.
4）Do more exercises
Keep up a regular exercise routine. Do at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise or at least 75 minutes of strenuous exercise each week, to maintain a healthy metabolism.
5）Control your weight
Being overweight can also increase the risk of cancer, so it’s very important to control your weight. The ideal BMI of city dwellers should be kept under 24. You also need to beware of developing a big tummy. The waistlines of men and woman should be kept under 36 and 32 inches respectively.
6）Pay attention to your stools
If there is something abnormal in your bowel habits, such as having diarrhoea or constipation for two or more consecutive weeks, or if you see blood or mucus in your stool, or you have a feeling that your bowel isn’t emptying completely, or you have persistent abdominal discomfort such as bloating, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
7）Do regular check-ups
Have a colorectal cancer check-up regularly. International reports say that having regular colon check-ups could effectively lower the death rate of colorectal cancer by 33%. Medical experts recommend that people from the age of 50 to 70, even if they have no symptoms of colorectal cancer, should have a faecal occult blood test once a year and a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, or a colonoscopy every 10 years.
Eating sausages, or processed foods, or even small harmful lifestyle habits, when continued over years, can greatly affect our health. So protect yourself with healthy habits from an early age. Even starting today can help you look forward to a healthier, happier future!
- The Hong Kong Cancer Registry of Hospital Authority: Cancer Facts
- The Hong Kong Cancer Registry of Hospital Authority: Overview of Hong Kong Cancer Statistics of 2016
- CUHK Jockey Club Multi Cancer Prevention Programme: Prevention for colorectal cancer
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of World Health Organization：AGENTS CLASSIFIED BY THE IARC MONOGRAPHS, VOLUMES 1–123
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