Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for
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Cancer and the forces that drive it are complex – hence the reason a cure has not been found despite billions in research. However, progress is afoot on several fronts. The area of risk is one bright spot.
The role diet plays in the development of cancer is complicated and it’s hard to disentangle cause from effect.
However, it’s been established that certain ingredients can encourage the development of cancer.
One that’s eaten by too many Britons is salt.
“Most of us are eating more salt than we realise, and it’s not just the salt added to our cooking or at the table that we need to watch out for,” notes the NHS.
If salt’s effect on the body was entirely benign, this wouldn’t be a problem.
However, alongside high blood pressure, “research has identified a link between salt and an increased risk of stomach cancer” warned Hussain Abdeh, Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct.
The pharmacist explained: “The body needs a certain amount of sodium to help conduct nerve impulses.
“It also works to maintain an adequate balance of water and minerals and helps the muscles to contract and relax.
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“However, when there is too much salt in your diet, it can damage the lining of the stomach.”
According to Mr Abdeh, “this can cause lesions which can become cancerous if allowed to develop.”
What’s more, “bacteria called Helicobacter pylori are also damaging to the stomach, and the damage can be made worse when there is high salt content in the stomach”.
In fact, Helicobacter pylori causes one in three stomach cancers, warns Action on Salt, a group concerned with salt and its effects on health.
What does Mr Abdeh advise?
“Many people make the mistake of believing they are at low risk of this problem because they do not add salt to their foods, i.e. they do not use table salt to season their meals.”
However, as the pharmacist pointed out, it is important to look at the nutritional information on the packaging of the food you eat to see just how much salt you are taking in.
“This is especially true for ready meals and processed foods, which are often hidden salt mines.”
He added: “People should also watch out for the likes of bread, tinned soup, and savoury snacks, all of which contain surprisingly higher amounts of salt than you would expect.”
How much salt should you be eating?
In the UK, the daily recommended maximum is no more than six grams a day and yet the current average daily salt intake is around eight grams, with many people eating more than this.
According to the NHS, the guidelines differ for children.
- One to three years should eat no more than 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
- Four to six years should eat no more than 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
- Seven to 10 years should eat no more than 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
- 11 years and over should eat no more than 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium).
“Babies should not eat much salt, because their kidneys are not fully developed to process it,” warns the NHS.
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