hand taking meat from charcuterie board (l) man with hand on chest and captions '5 things I would avoid as a cancer doctor' and 'here's five things I would never do as a cancer doctor' (c) glass of whiskey with ice (r)

Milica Nistoran/Shutterstock Jag_cz/Shutterstock @drwaqqastai/TikTok (Licensed)

‘Whew. He didn’t say avoid Diet Coke’: Cancer doctor shares the 5 things he ‘would never do’

‘Even one glass of red wine at dinner is carcinogenic.’

 

Melody Heald

Trending

A popular oncology dietician just took her followers with her to the grocery store to show them which products increase one’s risk for cancer and which are safe for consumption, despite common misconceptions.

Another cancer expert, an oncologist, has gone similarly viral for sharing “five things [he] would never do as a cancer doctor.”

The video, posted by TikTok user Dr. Waqqas Tai, DO (@drwaqqastai), garnered 422,000 views.

Tobacco

Group of friends lighting cigarettes and smoking together sitting on a bench outdoors
Lomb/Shutterstock (Licensed)

The first thing Dr. Tai says you won’t catch him doing is “smoking tobacco, using any tobacco products, and vaping.”

“The tobacco products, the tobacco itself has carcinogenic properties. It causes harder buildup in your lungs, which causes tissue damage to the lungs and that can also cause cancer,” he says.

According to UK Cancer Research, harmful chemicals can enter the lungs when smoking, which, in turn, damage one’s DNA. And that includes DNA that protects humans from cancer. “Chemicals in cigarette smoke also make it harder for our cells to repair DNA damage. This means DNA damage can build up,” UK Cancer Research states.

Smoking tobacco can cause 15 different cancers, including lung, throat, liver, pancreatic, stomach, cervical, colon, and bladder cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “Smoking causes about 20% of all cancers and about 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States. About 80% of lung cancers, as well as about 80% of all lung cancer deaths, are due to smoking.”

And “lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in people in the United States.”

Alcohol

Two glasses of whiskey with ice cubes
Jag_cz/Shutterstock (Licensed)

The doctor then turns his attention to alcohol.

“I avoid alcohol,” the doctor says.

Every year, 20,000 people die from alcohol-related cancer, according to the CDC. Because alcoholic drinks contain ethanol, they have the potential to cause mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, breast, and bowel cancer, according to Cancer Council. This is because the body turns ethanol into acetaldehyde, a toxic chemical that can damage DNA, regardless of how much alcohol is consumed.

“Any level, even one glass of red wine at dinner is carcinogenic,” the doctor says in his video.

In addition, “Alcohol can irritate and inflame your organs and tissues. As your body tries to repair itself, it can set off mistakes in your DNA that let cancerous cells grow,” per WebMD.

Red and deli meats

hand taking meat from charcuterie board
Milica Nistoran/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Then, he discusses red and deli meats. “Red meats and deli meats are carcinogenic. The aspect of salting, curing, smoking these meats creates a lot of carcinogenic byproducts which are extremely toxic anywhere from your mouth down to your esophagus, colon and through your rectum,” he states. 

“Current research shows that there are certain chemicals in red and processed meats – both added and naturally occurring – that cause these foods to be carcinogenic. For example, when a chemical in red meat called haem is broken down in the gut, N-nitroso chemicals are formed and these have been found to damage the cells that line the bowel, which can lead to bowel cancer. These same chemicals also form when processed meat is digested,” per Cancer Council.

Sunscreen helps

Man with sunburned skin
New Africa/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Furthermore, Dr. Tai recommends wearing sunscreen on any parts of the body exposed to the sun. “Any skin is gonna be exposed has to be covered, especially if you’re driving a long time to work or you’re a commuter,” he says. “You need to cover your face neck, back of your neck, hands, and arms.” The sunscreen application process must be repeated every few hours to protect oneself from the UV rays. 

Vitamin D is healthy for the bones, prevents diseases, and lowers blood pressure. However, too much sun can be bad, increasing one’s risk of skin cancer. That’s why sunscreen is so important. “Regular daily use of SPF 15 sunscreen, when used as directed, can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by about 40 percent, and lower your melanoma risk by 50 percent,” per the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Exercise

people training on machines in gym
Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Finally, he turns his attention to excercise. “If you’re overweight, you are at a higher risk of cancer,” the doctor says.

According to MD Anderson Cancer Center, “Visceral fat cells are large, and there are a lot of them. This excess fat doesn’t have much room for oxygen. And that low-oxygen environment triggers inflammation. … Long-term inflammation caused by excess visceral fat can damage your body and increase your risk for cancer.”

“You need to do a vigorous exercise 150 minutes [per week], and if that’s not enough, you have to consider other options,” the doctor continues.

“Being active can help you keep a healthy weight, which reduces the risk of 13 different types of cancer. Exercising regularly can lower the risk of breast cancer and bowel cancer in particular. Being active has many benefits – it keeps your body and mind healthy,” per Cancer Research UK.

Some of those “other options” include bariatric surgery, Ozempic, and Mounjaro, the doctor says. These option are generally fine as long as one doesn’t abuse them and are meant for people who “have had no success with diet, exercise and other common weight-loss strategies,” according to Yale Medicine.

Before signing off, Dr. Tai encourages getting other preventive measures done, such as colonoscopy, pap smear, and mammogram. 

“Get it done. All of these cancers are preventable, and some can be caught really early with a success rate of treating is up to 100%. If you catch it late, it’s almost down to zero,” he says. “They may be little inconveniences, but none are problematic enough where you wanna risk your life.”

Wait, does diet soda, sugar, and chips cause cancer?

Viewers shared their thoughts in the comments section of the video. “Sugar and chips not mentioned,” one said.

“Whew. He didn’t say avoid Diet Coke,” another wrote.

There isn’t a strong connection between cancer and diet soda. And sugar doesn’t contain carcinogens. However, too much sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, and diabetes, thus putting you at a higher risk for developing cancer. And chips contain acrylamide. Although cancerous in rodents, there isn’t evidence it is cancerous in humans.

The Daily Dot reached out to Dr. Tai via Instagram direct message and TikTok comment. 

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