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Fast Food & Cancer – Is there a relation?

There has been a lot of discussion around the ill effects of eating fast food. It has been generally linked to a lot of health conditions like obesity, hypertension, hyper-cholesterolemia and many more. However, there have been limited studies to find out the relation between fast food and cancer. Most of the cancer doctors are also inconclusive about the fast food and cancer relation. Studies also reflect that eating fast food might be one of the risk factors for causing cancer; however, it cannot be the only reason why cancer happens.

How Does Cancer Happen?

Cancer happens on a genetic level and fast foods cannot cause it directly. However, certain ingredients of fast foods that are added to make them look and taste more appealing can acts as carcinogens triggering genetic mutations and indirectly contributing to cancer. Fast food also cause medical conditions like obesity, weight gain and generation of oxygen free radicals in large amounts, which can predispose an individual towards development of cancer.

Read about Obesity and Cancer – Are they related?

Fast Food and Cancer

Fast foods are full of salt, sugar and fat, and consuming these ingredients in high quantities is highly harmful for the human body. These foods are cured using nitrates which are present in the fast foods as preservatives or as coloring agents. Essentially even nitrates do not cause cancer themselves but under certain conditions they change into N-nitroso compounds, which are associated with increasing the risk of developing cancers.

Fast foods that have smoky flavours especially meats and nuts are rich in tar produced by the smoke, which is a known Carcinogen. Most of these food items increase the risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer, though the probability of developing other cancers also stands high.

Also you can read Colorectal Polyps and Colon Cancer: What’s the link?

Fast foods are also rich in refined flours, since most of these are bleached with chemical called Chlorine. Chlorine is a known & dangerous irritant that is not safe to inhale. White flour, which is found in many processed foods has a very high glycemic rate and quickly raises the blood sugar level and insulin levels. This may lead to the development of diabetes and can help in cancer spreading since cancer cells feed on these readily available sugars.

It is also known that cancer cells feed on fructose-rich sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as it easily metabolized, explaining why cakes, pies, cookies, sodas, juices, sauces, cereals, and other fast foods are loaded with refined sugars. It also lends an explanation as to why fast foods rich in sugar can be the contributing factor towards cancer growth.

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