Your letters: Cancers and unhealthy foods
Paper Edition | Page: 8
I refer to your article “Cancer cases rise among Balinese women”, (The Jakarta Post, July 19).
The article reminded me of a health problem which was uncovered in Taiwan very recently, which conclusively linked a popular herbal beverage with an abnormally high incidence of liver ailments, including cancers.
Tests were done proving the cause-effect link, so the government issued the appropriate public warnings and new laws against the sale of this particular beverage, which had been consumed in the country for decades.
In Bali, and in Indonesia more widely, I believe many cancers can be directly attributed to the consumption of cheap fried foods and specifically foods fried in old, stale cooking oil. These foods are cheap, tasty and ubiquitous throughout Indonesia.
I also question the street selling of so-called jamu drinks, in my opinion, think they ought to be thoroughly tested by the government for the presence of toxins.
There is a superabundance of medical books and studies now available worldwide, and most of this is available online, discussing the links between food consumption and human health.
However, given the lax restrictions on publishing, especially now with blogs and unregulated online media, the public can be forgiven for being confused by the oversupply of contradictory and confusing health findings from these multiple sources. Many so-called medical or health websites are simply selling products and making unsubstantiated claims.
At the end of the article Professor Manuaba said, among other things, “You are what you eat”, which is very true and is a wise reminder to us all to eat healthy foods.
Furthermore, many Asian countries, including Japan, are currently experiencing strong anxiety regarding the safety of the national food supply. Many Japanese are rightly concerned about how the recent nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima has possibly harmed the food supply via radiation contamination.
In China, there have been numerous food safety scares, including a recent one regarding tainted milk powder. These developments are indeed unfortunate and cause a lot of public anxiety. This is ironic as well, given that a very famous and widely acclaimed book, The China Study, published over a decade ago, concluded that the low incidences of cancer in China was primarily attributed to their high consumption of fish, rice and vegetables and low consumption of meat, in conjunction with less stressful lives. This fact was contrasted with the American diet high in meat and cholesterol and the high rates of cancer experienced in America.
It is important for the government to take simple, cautionary steps, such as testing widely available and very cheap “remedy products” to help the public protect their health. Fried food sellers who use toxic cooking oil should be closed down as well.