Today’s Editorial November 19: US report slams foods popular in Cayman

You may want to put down that bacon and reach for a grapefruit instead.

And the next time you order a pizza you may want to hold the pepperoni and limit yourself to one slice. You also might consider walking a few laps around the neighbourhood every evening.

An important report released this month piles on the evidence linking cancer to both obesity and processed meats.

The North American medical community is calling the report a powerful wakeup call for millions of people.

This would, of course, include Caymanians.

Many of us may like to imagine ourselves as natural, fruit-eating and active Caribbean people but, unfortunately, that is more nostalgic fantasy than current reality in most cases.

Many Caymanians now eat processed meat and junk food daily while exercising very little, if at all.

To confirm it, simply scan the shelves of our grocery stores and look over the menus at our restaurants and one will see that our diet is nearly identical to that of Americans.

And with that American-style diet come many of the same problems that the US is now confronting. Given all this, we ignore this new report at our own peril.

Produced by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, the report declares that no amount of bacon, lunchmeat or sausage is totally safe.

The reason, according to the international panel of experts, is carcinogens from the cooking and/or the preparation process for these meats.

And the risk is significant.

For example, every 1.7 ounces of processed meat consumed daily raises an individual’s cancer risk by 21 per cent. Red meat in general was also singled out for warning by the report that reviewed more than 7,000 major studies.

There are many recommendations offered within the report. A few of them are:

?Eat no more than 18 ounces of red meat per week;

? Cut out all processed meats (lunchmeat, bacon, sausage and ham) from your diet;

? Exercise at least half-an-hour per day;

? Eat as least five servings of vegetables and fruits;

? Reduce your consumption of processed foods that are high in fat and sugar.

Don’t bury your head in the sand. The risks are now known. Carrying excess body fat is a considerable danger. It brings increased risks of cancers of the colon, pancreas, kidney, uterus and esophagus. Those who couldn’t find enough motivation to exercise to lower the risk of heart disease risk or to improve daily life may now find it in fear of cancer.

Cancer can come from many sources, some impossible to defend against, and sometimes we are unfairly doomed more by our genes than our lifestyle. But we can make sensible choices in how we live and what we eat based on what we know. We owe at least that much to ourselves.

To learn more about the cancer report, see www.dietandcancerreport.org

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