According to the World Cancer Research Fund, limiting your salt intake may reduce your risk of developing stomach cancer. The recommended daily salt intake is about 6g, but on average people are consuming 43% more than they should be at 8.6g a day.
In the UK there are about 6,000 reported of stomach cancer every year. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has estimated that about 800 of these cases (14%) could be avoided if people stuck to the 6g a day rule. In Australia, there are nearly 1,900 cases of stomach cancer diagnosed each year, affecting twice as many men as women. Research has shown that in Australia, men eat an average of 10g of salt daily while women only consume about 7g.
The WCRF is hoping to create a “traffic light” system for food labeling. In this system, red would represent the most unhealthy foods, amber the middle choices and green the healthiest options. This type of standardized labeling system would help consumers make more informed and healthy choices.
“Because around three-quarters of the salt we consume is already in processed food when we buy it, WCRF would like to see traffic light labelling on the front of food and drink packaging to give clear guidance on the levels of salt as well as sugar, fat and saturated fat.”
Stomach cancer is generally not caught until it is in an advanced stage, so it is often hard to treat successfully. Common symptoms include heartburn, indigestion, loss of appetite and nausea. Many people mistake these symptoms for other conditions such as a peptic ulcer. For this reason, only about 15% of stomach cancer patients survive for more than five years.
Hopefully the traffic light labeling will be established soon and help people to watch their salt intake. But for now, try and pay attention to food labels: you may be consuming a lot more salt than you thought.
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