•Expert says Nigerian foods capable of checkmating deadly disease
By COSMAS OMEGOH Tuesday, February 07, 2012
A meal of pounded yam like this can help curtail cancer
Photo: Sun News Publishing
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Last Saturday, February 4, was Wocrld Cancer Day. But even as the world marks the day year in year out, cancer has continued to spread its deadly wings, killing thousands of people each day across the globe. Cancer is deadlier than the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), an expert has declared. Professor Aderemi Tajudeen Ajekigbe of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) insists the disease is a monster prowling on all fours, regretting that researchers are yet to unravel its causes.
However, Professor Ajekigbe who is the Head of Department of Physiotherapy and Oncology at LUTH is happy that the disease’s advancement can be halted if Nigerians eat more local foods rich in fibre. He is furious that many Nigerians have abandoned these foods for foreign ones lacking in fibre even when Europeans are embracing Nigerian foods to help them fight the disease.
“Cancer is a terrible disease which spreads in the body beyond the organ from where it first started,” he states with authority. “Anyone – rich and poor - can suffer cancer; anybody can be its candidate.
“Cancer is the only disease that can affect all parts of the body. It starts from an ‘offending organ’ and spreads to other organs of the body or ‘non-offending organs’, beginning like an abnormal growth.”
Speaking on the early signs of cancer, he says: “Once there is any bleeding from any of the natural holes in the body – eye, nose, anus, nipple or vagina, the patient should see a doctor quickly. The only bleeding considered normal is a woman’s menstrual flow.
“If a woman notices blood coming from her nipples, that’s a clear sign of cancer. Men too suffer breast cancer because they have breasts, though it is rare. Besides, people must note their frequency of visiting the toilet to empty their bowls. If there is a sudden change, and the fellow doesn’t have diarrhea or constipation, that is a sign that cancer of the colon or the intestine is about to strike. If one notices a black spot in the sole of his/her foot which is often not painful, that means that a malignant melanoma – a very, very bad skin cancer is approaching. The person too needs to see a doctor. Similarly, if one’s voice is growing hoarse, or one is inexplicably losing weight and people are asking, ‘what is happening?’ he/she should see a doctor. Anything unusual that anyone notices in his/her body, the individual should see a doctor fast.”
Professor Ajekigbe goes on to outline the most dominant cancers that Nigerians must strive to avoid. Hear him: “The most common cancers in the country and in the world now are cancers of the breast and the cervix. Men don’t have cervix; they suffer cancer of the prostate. We also have cancer of the rectum or intestine otherwise called colorectal, cancer of the head and neck cancer.
“Now, people who smoke and take alcohol easily suffer cancer. Alcohol and cigarette smoking work synergistically in spreading the disease to all parts of the body including the head and neck. That is why alcohol and cigarettes need to be avoided.”
He regrets that the disease is also affecting children, thus confirming his earlier declaration that the monster respects neither age nor gender. He says: “We also see childhood tumours in children, particularly cancer of the eye. Cancer of the kidney and cancer of the blood are also common now in children.”
The LUTH teacher fears that advancement in medical technology is yet to full match the dominant influence of the disease. “If you know the cause of any illness, it can be absolutely prevented. As bad as HIV/AIDS is, you know what to avoid. But you can’t say so about cancer because till now, we don’t know the cause. All we know are etiological factors which can increase one’s chances of having a particular type of cancer. One of them is genetic or hereditary factor.
For instance, we didn’t ask to be born; all of us were born without our consent. When the process of our birth was being considered, some genetic materials were passed on to us. These genetic materials contained coded messages. As we live, these messages keep unfolding. If what has been unfolded so far has nothing threatening our health, it is congratulations to us. However, whether cancer will unfold tomorrow we don’t know. Some of these messages simply lie latent in us, waiting for a stimulus to trigger them off. The stimulus may be what we eat or the way we behave. There may be occupational factor and other things. Once it starts, nothing stops the growth. It is like when you leave a car on a slope.
The moment one gives it a push, nothing will stop it from rolling down hill. Even when someone stops pushing it, nothing will prevent it from crashing down the valley. Cancer may be lying latent in someone, but the moment it is triggered, nothing can be done to stop its growth. Even when that stimulus is removed, the spread continues.”
Professor Ajekigbe says although there is no cure yet for the disease, medical professionals are doing all within their powers to fight it. He therefore urges individuals to contribute to the effort by taking early precaution.
“As a precautionary measure, Nigerians must try to identify early signs of cancer. They should watch out for any lump or thickening in their bodies. They should watch out for bleeding from any part of their body or any loss of weight or black spot in the sole of their feet – anything unusual. Once something is noticed, the right thing to do is to see a doctor as that could be an early sign of cancer. We often tell women of child-bearing age to take the mucous that issues from their cervix (pap smear) for regular examination. It is a sure way of dictating early sign of cancer of the cervix. We encourage them to regularly examine their breasts for possible lumps. They need to press their nipples to see if blood will come out of it. They can as well do a mammogram – an ex-ray of the breast once every year to find out if there are things wrong there. Mammogram dictates cancer for early treatment to commence.”
According to him, local foods are good in preventing the disease. He says: “Our foods - eba, akpu, amala, pounded yam are very good because they contain a lot of fibres. They help us to empty our bowels quickly so that faeces don’t stay long there. Faeces contain substances that can cause cancer. Those things are castinogenic because they contain no fibre. If we don’t eat things that contain fibre, faeces are bound to stay long in our intestine before we go to the toilet thus making those cancer-causing agents to be active there.
“Our foods are good for cancer prevention. Therefore, we should not abandon them. In fact, the whites are now eating our food. But unfortunately, we are abandoning our foods and embracing their own food. That is why we are now having a lot of cancer of the intestine nowadays because we want to feel civilised by embracing foods alien to us.”
Professor Ajekigbe who speaks to Daily Sun as part of this year’s campaign to mark World Cancer Day on Saturday, February 4, expresses happiness with the campaign in the country to spread the disease’s awareness. He says: “Every February 4, the world tries to make people aware that cancer is a killer disease. It has been there for long. However, what is more worrisome now is that its dominance is on the increase, particularly in Nigeria and Africa.
“We in LUTH sent out teams to the streets and market places to educate people on the dangers of the disease. The same initiative, I’m sure, was undertaken around the country. Various teams visited schools, churches, mosques, markets, NYSC Camps and other places where people gather.
“Besides, the month of October is set aside as “Pink Ribbon” month to draw global attention particularly to cancer of the breast. This is because the ailment is a lot deadly and has continued to be the leading cancer in the world.”
He advises Nigerians to attend regular cancer checks, saying: “When cancer gets out of control, in most cases nothing can stop it; it leads to death. Cure of cancer is very, very expensive. It involves all kinds of treatment known in medicine.”
via Daily Sun
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