Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Typical Jamaican diet skewed the wrong way — professor speaking for Cancer Society

Published:Monday | February 27, 2017 | 4:45 PM
Professor Marvin Reid addresses a JIS Think Tank on the relationship between nutrition and cancer .

Acting Director of the Caribbean Institute for Health Research at the University of the West Indies Professor Marvin Reid, is reiterating the need for persons to pay close attention to the relationship between nutrition and cancer.

Speaking in an interview with JIS News on behalf of the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS), Professor Reid said nutrition plays a role both as a risk factor and as a tool for management of the disease.

“There are strategies and interventions that can be employed by the cancer patient that can improve chances of survival,” he said explaining that the risk factors for many cancers involve high-fat diets and poor nutrition. Professor Reid who is also a volunteer physician at the JCS explained that cancer occurs when a cell in the body does not follow instructions.

“It just keeps growing and does not listen to the regular body signals, so it is a misbehaving cell which proliferates and grows and becomes a misbehaving tissue,” he said.

According to the Acting Director, common chemicals which tend to promote cancer, include fat-related chemicals, so diets that are high in fat create a predisposition to cancer.

He added that alcohol is another product, which when consumed on a regular basis can predispose persons to cancer.

Professor Reid also pointed out that processed foods and processed meats in particular, play a role in the development of colon cancer.

He said that a minimal amount of processed meat is allowable, however, the method of preparation is important, adding that it was best to broil or bake meat.

The senior researcher said that there are also preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of cancer such as consuming more foods that are rich in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables which are also high in fibre.

He said that nutrition is also used as a part of the treatment modality for cancer patients and that the specific nutritional intervention is largely dependent on the aggressiveness of the treatment.

He explained that the typical Jamaican diet is skewed the wrong way explaining that most people have many servings of starch including rice, yam and banana among others and a small amount of vegetables.

This he says goes contrary to a healthy outcome and that more fruits and vegetables should be consumed at mealtimes.

Professor Reid added that foods high in calcium and Vitamin D have also been found to be cancer-protective. The Jamaica Cancer Society observes Healthy Lifestyles Month during February.