South Africa: food is the root of cancer, say authorities

Ministry says nearly all tests for the cancer spread through three places in fruit, along with the digestive system and to the liver

South Africa is battling a mutation that causes cancer that has now spread to every organ but the liver, with around 50,000 affected people, health officials said on Tuesday.

The ministry of health said there were many centres across the country where the disease was currently treated, but that the most common mechanism of its spread was through diet.

“Highly cancerogenic,” were the words used by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to describe the condition, known as Omicron variant.

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South Africa was one of the first countries to declare cancer a national emergency after most deaths from the disease were caused by the human papilloma virus or HIV/Aids. The disease was later identified as Omicron variant when scientists found a high level of cancer was spread through fruit such as mangoes and guavas.

The virus in each fruit is different to the virus that causes cancer.

Out of a total of 52,310 reported cases of cancers of the digestive system in 2014, Omicron variant was the cause for 21% of them, the NICD said.

Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi said more research was needed and urged citizens to be alert of eating certain foods.

The country’s most widely consumed food is beef, accounting for 85% of cancer cases.

South Africa, a country of 51 million people, has 23.6 cancer-related deaths per 100,000, compared with 4.8 in Africa, according to World Cancer Research Fund.

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