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Antioxidants in cereals and in food preservatives and declining gastric cancer mortality

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Abstract

Statistics on cancer mortality by site were published in the United States for the first time in 1930. Since then the death rates from cancer in various sites have shown different trends. Forty years ago, cancer of the stomach was the leading cause of cancer mortality in men, and was second only to uterine cancer in women. The incidence and death rates from stomach cancer have decreased steadily in both sexes until today it is only the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in men and the eighth most common cause in women. Mortality from stomach cancer is now less than one third of the 1930 death rate in men and less than one fourth of the 1930 death rate in women. The reason for the continuing decline is not known.

Recent evidence indicates that antioxidants prevent carcinogenesis,1, 2 possibly by decreasing the attachment of the carcinogen to desoxyribo-nucleic acid (DNA).3 The potent food additive antioxidants, butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene, recently have been shown to decrease the incidence of stomach cancer in mice;4, 5 and an inverse relationship has been observed between the potent antioxidant, selenium, and human cancer mortality.6

Two factors may contribute to the decline of gastric cancer mortality in Americans: the widespread consumption of wheat cereals rich in antioxidants which began in the late 1920’s, and the extensive use of the food antioxidant preservatives which began in the late 1940’s.

Antioxidants in cereals

The word “cereal” is derived from Cerealia, the name given ancient Roman rites. . .


 

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