It’s World Health Day! Every year, the World Health Organization chooses a global public health concern to focus on. This year, it’s food safety. Over 200 diseases, including cancer, are caused by unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses and chemical substances. It is estimated that two million deaths occur every year from contaminated food or drinking water.
Several dangerous chemicals can contaminate our daily foods. Knowledge is power.
Here are some tips to minimize your exposure to potentially harmful substances:
- Skip canned vegetables: The lining in canned food can leach chemicals like BPA (a synthetic compound that could lead to cancerous tumor growth). Stick with fresh vegetables as much as possible. If desired produce is out of season, choose frozen over canned or look for brands that make BPA-free cans.
- Eat organic: Organic produce is grown without harmful man-made pesticides and herbicides. Buy organic from your grocery store or farmer’s market to avoid these chemicals.
- Buy hormone-free meat and dairy items: Animals consume pesticides, growth hormones and other contaminants which can all leave residues in animal products. Choose hormone-free meat and dairy products to minimize your risk.
- Be careful with seafood: Seafood can contain several harmful substances like PCBs (synthetic compounds that have been linked to cancer), mercury and dioxins (dangerous environmental pollutants). When preparing fish, bake or broil it which will cook off natural fats and cause any accumulated chemicals to drip out.
- Grilling: The char that develops on heavily grilled foods can contain PAHs (toxic organic compounds). Go for medium cooked meats instead of well-done and scrape off any black char that results from overcooking.
These harmful substances have been linked to breast, prostate, colorectal and several other cancers. To ensure everyone has access to clean and healthy food and drink, join the international movement to support the World Health Organization’s mission. You can join the conversation online using #SafeFood. By participating, you could help encourage lawmakers worldwide to improve food safety. Let’s raise awareness for these harmful contaminants in order to Stop Cancer Before it Starts!