Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for
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Finding a cure for cancer is arguably humanity’s highest goal but one is yet to be found. It speaks to the sophisticated nature of the threat: cancerous cells often evade detection and spread to other parts of the body, rendering treatments ineffectual. Yet strides have been made in understanding the risk factors, many of which can be modified.
What you decide to put into your body can influence your risk of developing cancer.
The ill effects of smoking are well documented but diet remains an area ripe for further research.
According to Hussain Abdeh, Superintendent Pharmacist at online pharmacy Medicine Direct, you should avoid eating salted fish where possible.
“Salted fish (Chinese-style) is a known cause of cancer,” warned Mr Abdeh.
Chinese-style salted fish is popular in Chinese populations along the south China coast and South-eastern Asian countries, where it is often used as an accompaniment to other dishes or rice.
Salted fish are prepared by salting, brining, dry-salting, pickle curing, or a combination of these treatments.
According to Mr Abdeh, fish served this way is classed as a Group 1 carcinogen, as is processed meat like hot dogs and salami.
“Salting raw fish is a traditional way of preserving food and is common practice in China and South-East Asia,” explains the pharmacist.
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“However, by salting fish to preserve it, this also causes carcinogenic by-products to be produced, which can lead to cancer in humans.”
A carcinogen is an agent with the capacity to cause cancer in humans.
According to Mr Abdeh, other foods that are highly salted, smoked or pickled as a means of preservation are also a cancer risk.
“The body converts them into N-nitroso, which is a compound linked to a greater risk of cancer. Smoked meats absorb tar, which is a carcinogen, while pickled and salted foods both have a high salt content, which is linked to stomach and colon cancer.”
Eating lots of processed and red meat can increase the risk of bowel cancer.
“We know for definite that processed meat is a cause of cancer, but the scientific evidence for red meat is less clear,” says Cancer Research UK.
The charity explains: “Red meat is classed as a probable cause of cancer. This means there is lots of good evidence of a link, but we need a few more of the best quality studies to be certain.”
Processed meat includes ham, bacon, salami, and sausages. Red meat includes all fresh, minced, and frozen beef, pork and lamb.
There is also some evidence for an increased risk of stomach and pancreatic cancer linked to these meats.
But more research needs to be conducted to know for sure if processed and red meat affects the risk of getting these cancer types.
Symptoms – main symptoms to spot
It’s important to be aware of any new or worrying symptoms.
According to the NHS, you should speak to a GP if you’ve noticed these changes and it’s lasted for three weeks or more:
- Tummy discomfort
- Blood in your poo
- Diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason
- A feeling of not having fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
- Pain in your stomach or back passage (anus).
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