Sunday, February 25, 2007

Any one for cancer?

I was watching a news item on an Arabic channel (MBC1), which gave a startling statistic, apparently there are around 35 new cases of cancer diagnosed daily in Saudi Arabia! One of the main reasons posed was possible carcinogens found in the diet.
Now, the funny thing is my grandmother (God bless her), has always been suspicious of modern food, esp. the canned variety! She always tells me: "The food in those cans cause the "bad disease" (almrad al3afen!)", she never uses the "C" word.
Our older generation has more wisdom than us. They have their experience to tell them that there is nothing better than natural and safe organic food, preferably grown and harvested by their own humble hands.
But in our era the only harvest we seem to be getting is the harvest of lives by the over growing specter of cancer.
What causes cancer is a multi billion dollar question, it has no single answer, and many of the answers still elude us. But there is some evidence to the causes of some of the cancers we know.
There is a lot of evidence out there to show that environmental contaminants of food are linked to the increasing cancer rates. Furthermore direct food production, is also implicated, the use of chemical preservatives, artificial colouring, and poor packaging can all be risk factors for developing cancer. Another important risk factor is the method of cooking, apparently over cooking some foods can be risky, esp. overcooking meat.
In many of the Arab countries including Libya, there seems to be a lack of "food safety" awareness, at the official level, we have fancily named authorities, although I seriously doubt their credibility or resources (both in facilities or quality of staff-with due respect to the few).
In Tripoli, if you walk in to any supermarket, you will be amazed at the amount of food and variety available to you. Most is imported over hundreds and thousands of miles. If you stare at the fridge and see the cheese and yogurts (you will be lucky to find yogurt in a fridge, most of it lies out side the fridge), ask your self what is in that food, what chemicals have been used so it can withstand the environmental rigors of transport and storage?!

Last year I was talking to an acquaintance of mine, who is a food technician, I asked tons of questions regarding carcinogens in our diet and food safety in general. One particular thing I remember was asking him about the strange phenomena of finding imported yogurt in Libya, which is a very hot country, lying outside fridges in the shops, with out it going bad! He told me that this kind of yogurt is especially sterilized at the source of production to get rid of all the "good bacteria" that makes yogurt what it is, and chemical preservatives are also added, thus this yogurt can last longer for its transport. To add more insult, artificial colours/flavors are added to these preservatives and last but not least, the all magic ingredient to make this "yuck" bearable: SUGAR, and what you get finally is a plastic container full of sweet preservatives and artificial colourings with minute traces of yogurt ready to go! Would you/ should you feed this to your child?! Many of these chemicals are dangerous and may/can cause cancer. You can only guess at the nutritional value of such food.
This is a small example, so next time you are in a supermarket; think carefully before you drop something into your shopping basket, because you may be inviting a lot more than just good old weight gain!


AngloLibyan said...

that is a good subject beacon.
you know recently I went to see a nurse to check my blood pessure, she asked me where im from, i told her Libya, she told me she was French married to an Algerian and she told me about a bad eating habbit in Algeria which we do have in Libya as well.
its eating burned food, like the burnt pasta at the bottom of the pan and burn barbequed meat, the burnt bits of food contain cancer causing chemicals but unfortunately in Libya we all love burnt food & burnt bread.

Beacon said...

Thanks for your comment AL,
Yes you are very right, I think its in our genes we all love the burnt pasta! But as you said, it is risky and it does contain carcinogens, but whats more important is the processed and artificial foods thats full of chemicals that we need to be aware of. I think if any one has the luxuary of choice they should try to go organic, its worth paying that little extra.

krekma said...

There you go, you can get your hands full by starting an educational drive about organic foods in Libya.
My take on this is that the way people choose foods and the way the cook them is at the heart of the problem, added the lazy life style of not exercising. The choices I refer to here are the can of tomato paste and edible non olive oils, plus the Pasta.
nice blog pal.

Beacon said...

I think organic foods as in the variety that people buy in the supermarkets is still a long way off, as its still hard to sell in the more developed countries because of its pricing.
I think people should be aware of what they feed their families where ever they live.
The issue of unregulated foods can be very dangerous and people should be aware of that and the risks it can pose to their health.

MaySoon said...

Nice subject Beacon, very true too, the imported yogurt tastes artificial too,
Any way I just wanted to say that at the supermarkets here products lack the food nutrition labels too, you don't know what you are getting :o), so yah organic food and increasing the amount of anti-oxidants intake is the best,


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