It is well understood that cancerous growths have been associated with poor lifestyle decisions. The ills of smoking, for example, hardly need to be mentioned. What may come as a surprise to many is the association with pickled vegetables.
Diets rich in foods preserved in salt, such as pickled vegetables, have been linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer.
As the Cancer Council notes, “The body does need some sodium but in most circumstances we get all of our sodium needs from foods naturally.”
The Health Authority, which funds and conducts cancer research, continues: “There is no need to add salt to foods. It is a good idea to switch to a low-salt diet and try foods flavored with herbs and spices instead.”
Research published in the magazine Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and preventionindicates that this would be wise.
Read more: Eating regularly at a certain time of day may increase cancer risk by about 30%
To determine whether intakes of fresh and pickled vegetables have different effects on gastric cancer risk in Japanese and Korean populations, researchers performed a meta-analysis of published epidemiological reports.
A meta-analysis compares the results of multiple studies to reach a more specific conclusion.
Eight studies on the consumption of fresh vegetables and 14 studies on the consumption of pickled vegetables related to gastric cancer risk were included in this meta-analysis.
Four studies were considered to explore differences in stomach cancer risk in men and women separately.
Read more: Cancer warning: A common drink is equivalent to smoking five to 10 cigarettes, according to a British study
What did the researchers discover?
The researchers noted that a higher intake of fresh vegetables was significantly associated with a lower risk of stomach cancer.
But eating large amounts of pickles is “significantly associated” with an increased risk of stomach cancer.
The researchers concluded: “The results of this meta-analysis provide evidence that eating large amounts of pickled vegetables may increase blood sugar.” [gastric cancer] risk and suggest that a high consumption of fresh vegetables, rather than a large total amount of vegetables including pickled vegetables, is important to reduce GC risk.”
It is important to note that more studies are needed to establish causation.
Also, since the research sample was confined to the Japanese and Korean populations, it is unclear whether specific demographic differences played a role.
Therefore, research in different population groups is needed to understand the prevalence of risk.
Stomach cancer – general risk factors
You can’t always prevent stomach cancer. But making healthy changes can reduce your chances of getting it.
According to the NHS, you must:
- Try to quit smoking
- Try to lose weight if you are overweight
- Wear protective clothing and masks if you work at a job where you are exposed to harmful chemicals, such as the rubber industry or coal mining
- Reduce the amount of salt you eat
- Try to cut back on alcohol – avoid drinking more than 14 units per week
- Try to eat at least five servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day
- Limit the amount of red and processed meat you eat, such as ham, bacon, and salami.
The NHS adds: “It is important that a GP checks for any symptoms of stomach cancer.”
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Having problems swallowing (dysphagia)
- feeling sick
- Indigestion symptoms such as frequent belching
- Feeling full quickly when eating.
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