|By Lizzy Adie, credited to Sola Ogundipe for Vanguardngr. Com. 27th April, 8 :33pm.
Regular consumers of grilled and barbecued beef and chicken popularly known as Suya , have been advised to always eat the delicacy with generous portions of the slices of onions, cabbage, tomatoes and other vegetables usually served along with the meat.
Giving the advise in Lagos, a professor of Nutrition and director of Academy Planning at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, Prof. ignatius Onimawo said research has shown that while there is a strong link between consumption of Suya and increased risk of cancer, consumption of suya garnished with onions and vegetables, has a strong cancer lowering effect.
Cancer Risk Increase.
Onimawo, who is immediate past president, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, and Dean, College of Food Processing and Storage Technology, Micheal Opkara University of Agriculture, Updike, Abia State, recalled a warning by the World Health Organization WHO, that except there is deliberate effort to imbibe healthier dietary and lifestyle habits over the next 10 years, cancer and other Non – Communicable Disease, NCDs, will increase by more than 27% in developing countries like Nigeria, compared to 17% in the developed world.
Take breast cancer, its incidence used to be very low among our women in those days and it was tagged “Oyinbo” disease because it was very rare in Nigeria or in Africa for that matter.
But today, this is no longer the case, breast cancer is everywhere. It is even killing people in the village. When we carried out studies to try to look at the aetiology of the disease, to find out where it all started, what we discovered was that we could trace the origin to Suya consumption.
During preparation of Suya, the meat is cooked over an open fire, and oils from the meat undergo complex chemical reaction that produces toxins that are Carcinogenic (cancer causing) in nature. Meat cooked over open flame often causes the formation of toxic compounds known as Heterocyclic Amines, HCAs, which are Carcinogenic compound. The more well-done the meat is cooked, the higher concentration of Carcinogenic HCAs can form.
Cancer is due to Oxidative processes in the body, onions are powerful antioxidants that effectively stop the Oxidative process triggered by consumption of suya from taking place.
Further, Onimawo said, one of the outcomes of the findings was that women who consume suya are more prone to cancer, (breast cancer) than men because they (women) tends to consume just the suya and ignore the vegetables.
When meat is cooked in a water base as opposed to grilling, HCAs are eliminated. Meat cooked in a soup or pot will not have Carcinogenic HCAs and is a healthier way to cook meat.