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Have you lately heard a near – dear one just got diagnosed with Cancer? Are you hearing about cancers more often than before ? Then you should also hear that 20-40% of cancers are preventable. In united kingdom OBESITY has just replaced Smoking as the No. 1 cause of cancer.

Obesity is the new kid on the block who is giving tough competition to smoking to be the no. 1 causative factor for various types of cancers. Dr. Archit Pandit is a Surgical oncologist at MAX institute of cancer care in Shalimar Bagh Delhi and he feels its all about the changing life style, the food habit, the changing culture and most importantly the physical inactivity in this part of the world.

Following are some of the examples that you can relate to in our day to day lifestyle that has changed from how it was a couple of decade back .

1. Dietary habits and Changing lifestyle –Interestingly our Refrigerator design have changed – I remember when I was a kid 3 decades back the freezer compartment in the refrigerators occupied only 10 to 20% of the whole storage area as compared to present day freezer compartment which occupy almost 50%of refrigerator area. The need to more space of freezer is not just about style but it means we are having more frozen foods and more preserved food. Ever remember your mother in the early 90’s serving ready to eat convenient food. W.H.O
(World Health organization has listed Processed meat (Transformed, Fermented, Smoking, Curing, Preservatives, Adding nitrates and salting) as carcinogenic to Humans.

2. Physical Inactivity – I remember myself in early 90’s playing football in the lawn in front of my house and coming back home completely drenched in sweat and red faced unlike mow days where we have the whole food ball ground captivated in a mobile phone or a video game at home. Physical inactivity and obesity in children is on a rise in India. With around 14 million obese children india has the second highest number if obese children in the world next to china. Prevalence of overweight and obesity in children is around 15%. Researches have studied very closely the relation of obesity and overweight with cancer. In a met analysis of 52 studies done in 2009 published in British Journal of cancer stated a reduction by 24% in certain cancers in physically active individuals.

3. Obesity – Excess weight is associated with an increased risk of many types of cancer. It is estimated around 20% of cancers are caused due to excessive weight and obesity. Dr. Archit Pandit goes on to say that “mind you these 20% cancers are preventable”. International agency for research on cancer (IARC) concluded that strength of evidence is high enough to establish a correlation of obesity and cancer. Especially stomach , food pipe cancers, colon , ovarian , endometrial , gall bladder , pancreatic, thyroid and post menopausal breast cancers. “Colon cancer” which was a cancer of the western world around 3 decades back is now very frequently seen in the Indian population, reason, changing diet pattern in Indian dietary habits and rising trend of obesity especially in children.

4. Dietary causes – Of course adulteration is one of the key factors in developing cancer. The milk we drink in India comes with ,lots of question marks, however we are not to discuss these issues here coz most of the times they are not in our control. We will be discussing dietary issues which we can avoid. Ever remember 3 decades ago Mc-D’s , Pizza chains, the famous Big B’s of burgers never existed. The diet use to be more of age old Indian Masala’s, the turmerics, ginger and all those micronutrients which use to come along. A study published in 2016 also went on to state that Sambar which is a south Indian curry protects against Colon cancer and Sambar as we all know is an ideal example of the veggies and the Indian masalas that it contains.

5. What’s healthy and Unhealthy Diet – Researchers have studied healthy and unhealthy dietary patters. Mediterranean diet (High fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole wheat bread, fish and olive oil) was associated with a 5 to 12 % reduction in risk of cancer. However Western diet (Ultraprocessed food, packaged breads, packaged snacks, sodas, processed meat, red meat, high fat, nitrite preservative foods, frozen meals) have higher risk of cancer incidence.

The above 5 listed issues are relatively new to our part of the world. Parents in their 40’s and above will be able to relate how we were 30 years back and where we are now. The Freezers have taken over the most of refrigeration requirements, copper cooking utensils are now extinct which could provide us a scourge of micronutrient, X-Boxes and Mobile phones have replaced the sweat and the joy of outdoor gaming, Dietary patterns have changed to more modern and convenience frozen foods .

Now, Below are the summarized points:

 Obesity and cancer

  • Obesity is known to be related directly or indirectly to approximately 20% of cancers and these cancers are preventable.

Dietary changing pattern

  • Indian Dietary pattern changing into a more of western dietary pattern. Fatty diet and more carcinogenic food habits are increasingly being formed a part of the diet.

Physical Inactivity

  • More X-Box’s and video gaming are replacing the joys of childhood outdoor sports. Resulting into more physical inactivity and intern obesity

Healthy Eating

  • Mediterranean food is considered healthy in research
  1. High on fruits
  2. Fresh vegetables
  3. Nuts
  4. Legumes and protein diet
  5. Whole wheat breads
  6. Unprocessed food
  7. Less of animal / saturated fats
  8. Olive oil based food
  9. Less of Soda’s
  10. Less of Junk food

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