Carambola (five fingers) causes cancer- false! This is just one of many cancer related myths being debunked in commemoration of World Cancer Day 2014. Celebrated around the world on February 4, this year’s World Cancer Day theme focuses on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration: Reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer, under the tagline “Debunk the myths”. St. Kitts-Nevis Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Martin is lending his voice to the cause and dismissing misconceptions about the disease. Cancer is not a death sentence, he emphasized in a public address; Cancer is avoidable and preventable; and treatable and curable, if caught early. “Food and exercise are ‘medicine’ to prevent and combat cancer as well as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and mental illness,”he said. Carambola fruit, for instance, he said, is good for you as it has cancer-fighting vitamins. Aside from debunking myths, Dr. Martin shared insight on some of the preventive measures persons can adopt to help avoid developing cancer and other chronic non-communicable diseases. “Vitamins fight cancer. Anti-oxidant vitamins A, C and E help the immune system destroy abnormal cells such as cancer cells,”he said. These vitamins are found in the colors of fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, papaya, guava, sweet peppers, lettuce, watermelon, and carrots. “Fiber comes from plants. Plant food provides adequate amounts of fiber which aids digestion, eases the passage of stool and prevents cancer. Therefore, eat plant food with every meal of every day,”he advised. Alcohol should be avoided or limited, Dr. Martin said. “Alcohol increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, stomach and colon. Therefore, avoid or limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks per day. 1 drink equals 10oz beer, 3oz wine, and 1oz shot of rum.”Under-cooked (rare) meat and blackened (burnt) meat are linked to cancer of the colon, he also pointed out. Dr. Martin recommended a number of lifestyle principles that will “maximize good health, minimize illness, and reduce medical bills”. Plants extract vitamins and minerals from the soil as they grow and deposit them in their flowers, leaves, branches, stems and roots; therefore, fruits, leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and provisions should be the primary source of all vitamins and minerals, he said. Other sources include fresh fish and fresh meats. Fat intake should be limited to small quantities, the doctor pointed out, including the use of saturated fat, found in dairy products and red meats. Trans fat, he said, should be eliminated from one’s diet. Another dietary no-no is HFCS- high fructose corn syrup. “Do not consume anything with high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is sweeter and cheaper than regular sugar. Excess sweetener intake is linked to excess body weight, diabetes and cancer. HFCS is an ingredient of almost every processed food and sugary drink,’said Dr. Martin. He also recommended eating in moderation, saying consuming “a pile of food”leads to bloating with gas, indigestion, heartburn, and forcing to pass “a pile of hard stool”which increases the risk of hemorrhoids. Since water aids digestion, he recommended starting each meal with a glass of water. Getting off one’s ‘behind’ is another recommendation of Dr. Martin’s, along with not skipping meals. “Engage in exercise equal to 30-40 minutes of brisk walking 3 times per week. The best diet is breakfast, lunch, and supper. Consume three (3) meals per day spaced 4 to 6 hours apart with the last meal two (2) hours before bed time. Do not skip breakfast.”He advised persons to adjust their cooking methods, opting to go the healthier route of steaming and baking foods instead of frying and boiling. Those suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure) and those wishing to avoid the disease should be aware that ketchup, barbeque sauce, cheese sauce, Vienna Sausage, and Ramen Noodles are high in salt which can increase blood pressure. “Also, they may contain MSG which can trigger migraine headaches and also add more sodium (salt) to the diet,”Dr. Martin highlighted.