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A dietician with the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Gloria Onuoha has warned against consumption of heavily processed foods, saying it has an increased risk of causing cancer.

According to WHO, cancer is a large group of diseases that can start in almost any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, go beyond their usual boundaries to invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs.

She gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia on Tuesday.

Onuoha spoke in commemoration of the World Cancer Day 2020, which is marked on Feb.4 annually to create awareness about the scourge.

The theme for this year is: “I can, we can”.

“We can work together to reduce cancer risk factors. We can overcome barriers to early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care.’’

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Onuoha described heavily processed food as any food that had been chemically altered with artificial flavour, additives and other ingredients during preparation to make it more convenient and shelf-stable.

She said that the heavily processed foods often included unhealthy levels of added sugar, sodium and fat.

According to her, these ingredients make the food consumed taste better, but too much of it also lead to serious health issues like obesity, heart attack, high blood pressure and diabetes.

“When it comes to diet, I normally say that we are what we eat.

“Too much intake of processed foods or processed meats like sausage rolls, pastries, sugary drinks, sweetened baked products and others exposes us to cancer occurrences.

“Foods that are imbedded with saturated fats can also expose us to cancer cells because they feed on fats and sugar.”

Onuoha said that once cancer was present, the refined sugar added to the processed food could speed the growth of tumours because cancer uses sugar as a fuel.

The nutritionist recommended eating fresh vegetables, whole grain and other foods that are high in fibre to avoid the risk of developing cancer.