While the South Korean television series My Love From The Star has seemingly fueled a craze among fans to mimic the lead female character’s habit of eating fried chicken and drinking beer to relieve her boredom, Cathay General Hospital yesterday said that doing so too often could lead to development of gastritis, gastric ulcers and gastric cancer.
Wong Jia-uei (黃家偉), a doctor in the hospital’s General Surgery Department, said gastric cancer is the most common cancer in Japan and South Korea, and also the second-most common cancer in Taiwan.
Besides the differences in body type, the reason is associated with dietary preferences, especially eating barbecued or deep-fried food, processed meat, pickled vegetables and alcoholic beverages, he said, adding that eating these types of food often is like eating a special carcinogenic meal.
Citing a recent example of a 50-year-old man surnamed Huang (黃), who works in the construction industry, Wong said Huang liked eating fried chicken, barbecued meat and sausage with beer since his youth, and often ate midnight snacks with kaoliang (高粱酒) two to three times a week in recent years.
Huang experienced frequent bloating and stomachaches beginning last year and went to the hospital after passing black stool, Wong said. However, after Huang was treated for hemorrhoids, black stools still occurred, Wong added.
Wong said Huang’s feces were sometimes red and sometimes as black as asphalt, and that this showed that other than blood from hemorrhoids, they also contained blood from his stomach that traveled through his intestines.
Huang was diagnosed with gastric cancer through gastroscopy and surgical biopsy examinations, and treated with a robotic surgical system during the cancer’s early stages, allowing him to recover, Wong said.
Food such as fried chicken and barbecued sausage stimulate gastric acid secretion, increasing the time needed for the stomach to empty itself and the burden for the stomach and intestines, Wong said, adding that gastric ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disorders develop more easily if these foods are eaten as midnight snacks.
He said that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons contained in barbecued food and nitrite contained in processed food such as sausages can be carcinogenic, and the longer they stay in the stomach, the more carcinogens are absorbed by the body, adding that drinking alcoholic beverages frequently may damage the body’s detoxification and recovery abilities, doing more harm.
Minimally invasive surgery can be used to treat gastric cancer, with reduced postoperative pain, intestinal adhesion and keloid, Wong said, stressing however that the surgery is not applicable for all gastric cancer patients.
Wong said early gastric cancer symptoms are unapparent, but people should make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible if they notice long-term discomfort in the upper central region of the abdomen or in the lower chest and near the heart, a swollen abdomen, nausea, vomiting, a loss of appetite or black stools.
He urged people to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, less deep-fried, barbecued or pickled foods, and avoid smoking and drinking, adding that they should schedule periodic endoscopic exams if they are over 40 years old.