Carcinogenic food processes

In Articles, Phil Says by Philip Yiin

Nutrition is always a delicate subject. With the bombardment of marketing from big food corporations and the scare mongering in the media, it is difficult to know who to believe.

A good place to start is the fundamentals about macronutrition and the inherent damages that alter their chemistry with long-term consequences.

Protein and cancer

A vast majority of people are consuming too little protein and too much carbohydrates. This imbalance leads to a mix of hyperactivity, fatigue, mental sluggishness and cravings in the short term and metabolic diseases in the long term.

However, processing meat can cause the formation of nitrosamines which are carcinogenic. Many experts have researched that intake of nitrosamines correlates with an increased gastric cancer and oesophageal cancer risk. A common source of nitrosamines at home are from the damaged oils during the process of barbequing.

In the early 1970s, there were outbreaks of liver disorders, including cancer, in various farm animals in Norway. Investigations revealed that all of the affected animals had consumed rations containing relatively large amounts of sodium nitrite, the same compound that had been reported as a strong liver carcinogen nearly a decade earlier.

Another common source is from cured meats. Cured meats can contain nitrosamines which is added to cured meats as a preservative. Of all the cured meats, bacon has received the most attention. It almost always contains detectable levels of nitrosamines. I have advocated proper food preparation methods in order to preserve nutrient integrity in past articles.

The very high cooking temperatures used to fry bacon are also conducive to nitrosamine formation. The prospect of sodium nitrite removal presented a formidable dilemma for the regulatory agencies. Removal of sodium nitrite would prevent nitrosamine formation, but it might also increase the risk of botulism poisoning. The real answer lies in the consumption of real food, fresh food.

The work done by Dr Colin Campbell with the world’s largest population study covering millions of people conclusively shows that a disproportionately high animal based protein intake increases cancer risks.

Yet in Malaysia and around the world, trying to be able to get away with such toxic food-like substances most of the time seems to be inbuilt unless some awareness is created sufficiently to overcome this self destruct mental mechanism.

Dr Campbell’s work also shows that typical peanut butter production methods leads to another carcinogen called aflaxtoxin. Peanuts are of course non-animal based so this shows that carcinogenic elements are not the sole confines of the animal kingdom. Being informed of the perils of food processing is the key.

Dietary fats and cancer

Fats. The F word. There are both healthy and unhealthy fats that are available to us. What does cancer have to do with it? Experiments on animals show a strong correlation between breast and colon cancer when mammals are fed a diet high in fats – a pattern that is not seen in animals fed a low-fat diet.

In fact, in humans, it can also be shown that a diet high in fats leads to an increased risk of cancer. This effect is seen more strongly in polyunsaturated vegetable oils than in saturated oils or polyunsaturated fish oils.

Again fats are largely innocent until it is exposed to high temperatures during cooking where it becomes damaged and toxic to humans and pets alike.

I can estimate there are almost NO food outlets in the country which use the right type of oil for the appropriate type of food preparation. Some exceptions must exist but I have not found them yet.

All vegetable-based oils, the most common being corn, canola, soy bean and olive oil amongst others, are toxic when exposed to normal frying temperatures. They can be trans fat-free in nature but NOT so after frying.

In Malaysia, worse are the stalls using recycled oil especially for our favourite roti canai and banana fritters. You can enjoy such foods but prepare them in a sensible manner to preserve nutrient integrity but again human nature dictates throwing caution to the wind.

Malaysian men tend to be more macho and contribute towards historically earlier death rates than women who appear to have a better sense of EQ.

Fat soluble pollutants is another area of concern. Earlier articles covered heavy metals which are lipophilic or fat soluble. Chemicals such as from plastics are leached into food; typically when we get takeaway from food stalls and outlets where hot food and soups are packed in plastic.

These are post-food ingredients, post-food preparation exposure. These chemicals are estrogenic in nature and contribute in no small measure to breast cancer, ovarian cancer and testicular cancer.

Carbohydrates and cancer

Research has suggested that by systematically reducing the amount of highly-processed dietary carbohydrates consumed, one can suppress cancer and that the progression of existing tumour cells can be significantly slowed down.

As the incidence of metabolic syndrome and associated diseases in sugar dysregulation increases, this pattern is becoming more and more pronounced.


  • Unlike normal cells, most malignant cells depend on a steady supply of glucose in the bloodstream for energy
  • High insulin levels from a high carbohydrate diet can directly promote tumour growth and expansion
  • High blood sugar also inhibits the release of ketones that are known to suppress cancers

But we need carbohydrates. They are a natural part of our diet –  the trick is knowing which carbohydrates and how much of them. The most up-to-date anti-cancer protocols look closely at nutrition and how to strictly control carbohydrates.

One of the biggest culprits of cancer causing carbs is acrylamide. It is so prevalent and so well camouflaged that most Malaysians consume them daily without even realising it is there.

High temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, or baking, is most attributable to acrylamide formation. Acrylamide is found mainly in foods made from plants, such as potato products, grain products, or coffee.

Acrylamide does not form, or forms at lower levels, in dairy, meat, and fish products. Acrylamide typically accumulates when cooking is done for longer periods or at higher temperatures.

Some very common food like items being fed to cancer patients:

  1. French fries, potato chips and crisps are the worst offender
  2. White flour cookies, crackers and biscuits
  3. Doughnuts
  4. Processed cereals and muesli are very high in acrylamide
  5. Roasted coffee

The FDA website lists Colombian coffee as the lowest in acrylamide in the tens compared to hundreds in all fast food chain coffees. Items 1-3 above are listed up to thousands ppb.

The biggest camouflaged culprit in the health industry is the perception that all organic food ingredients are healthy. The US-FDA states that there is no difference in acrylamide formation whether food ingredients are organic or not.

Organic restaurants serving organic ingredients-based food preparation under high temperatures contribute to a misinformed public that all organic food is healthy. Organic food NOT prepared in a proper manner is as carcinogenic as any other non-organic food out there.

I have written before on raw food preparation and its benefits. You can enjoy your favourite food such as banana fritters and yummy desserts FREE of acrylamide. Adopt better food choices; your family deserves it !

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