Preserved Vegetables Up Nasopharyngeal Cancer Risk

Every year, thousands of people worldwide are diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 3,200 Americans were diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in 2015. The incidence rate of nasopharyngeal cancer is quite low in the United States comparatively, but this cancer is common in other parts of the world, such as North Africa, some parts of Asia, particularly in South China, and among the Inuit ethnic group of Alaska and Canada.

Nasopharyngeal cancer is a cancer that begins in the nasopharynx, the part of the pharynx that lies behind the nose and serves as passage way for air from the nose to trachea. It can occur in people of all ages, including children. In fact, about half of the people suffering from nasopharyngeal cancer in the United States are below 55 years. Thus, all ages are at risk of developing this form of cancer. The findings of this 2015 study reveal that eating large servings of preserved vegetables regularly may strongly increase an individual's chances of having nasopharyngeal cancer.

Evidence on the Nasopharyngeal Cancer-Promoting Action of Preserved Vegetables

A team of researchers from the Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA, carried out a study aimed at determining the relationship between the consumption of preserved vegetables and the likelihood of developing nasopharyngeal cancer. In this study, the research team reviewed data and evidence obtained from 16 case-control studies. They observed that high dietary ingestion of preserved vegetables doubled the risk of developing cancer of the nasopharynx. The authors, therefore, concluded that increased intake of preserved vegetables may accelerate the growth and development of cancerous cells and tumors in the nasopharynx.

How Preserved Vegetables Stimulate the Development of Cancerous Cells in the Nasopharynx

Some of the methods commonly used in preserving most vegetables include salting, pickling, and fermentation. These processes introduced carcinogenic chemicals, such as N-nitrosodimethylamine and other volatile N-nitroso compounds into the vegetables. Increased consumption of preserved vegetables exposes an individual to these carcinogenic compounds, which promote the conversion of pre-cancerous lesion and mutated cells to invasive cancerous cells in the nasopharynx.

A Safer Alternative to Preserved Vegetables

Substituting preserved vegetables with fresh vegetables may cut down nasopharyngeal cancer development risk by 36%, according to this study. Fresh vegetables are rich in fiber, folate, carotenoids, vitamin C, and other vitamins that inhibit the growth and development of cancerous cells and tumors. Excluding preserved vegetables and including more fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits in your diet is a great way to reduce your nasopharyngeal cancer risk. Moreover, you can get all the benefits associated with preserved vegetables from fresh vegetables without having to worry about increasing your risk of developing nasopharyngeal cancer.

Additional Information:

(1) American Cancer Society- What Are the Key Statistics About Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

(2) Cancer Research UK-Nasopharyngeal Cancer

(3) International Journal of Cancer: Adulthood consumption of preserved and nonpreserved vegetables and the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma: a systematic review.

(4) Chemical Carcinogenesis and Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma

(5) Salted vegetables increase risk of nose cancer

(6) Scientific Reports: Association of fruit and vegetables with the risk of nasopharyngeal cancer: Evidence from a meta-analysis

(7) Pickled vegetables and the risk of oesophageal cancer: a meta-analysis