Your health is your best asset, and your diet can have a huge impact on it. You probably have a general idea of which foods you should be eating—vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish—but what about which ones to avoid?
Here’s a list of 15 potentially cancer-causing foods. It’s probably not something you think about every day, whether or not the foods you are eating could contain carcinogens, but with almost 1.5 million people diagnosed with some type of cancer just last year, perhaps it’s time to look at what is in our foods that could be causing such a huge number of new cancer patients.
Here is a list of the top 15 foods that you most likely consume every day that may contain carcinogens or be suspected of causing cancer.
1. Soda Pop
Sodas are sugar-loaded, the empty source of calories that can be very detrimental to your health. In addition to being linked to weight gain, inflammation, and insulin resistance, this sweet caffeinated beverage can lead to gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
This condition causes the stomach acid to leak back into the esophagus resulting in pain and burning.
In a recent study, the American Journal of Nutrition also found that soda drinkers have a higher risk of stroke than non-soda consumers.
In addition to this, soda pop contains a whole host of artificial colourings and chemicals (which are too numerous to list here). So it’s no surprise that drinking soda can lead to a higher risk of cancer.
2. Potato Chips
Who doesn’t love the taste of a salty, crunchy potato chip? While they may be satisfying to eat, the adverse effect they have on your body may be hard to stomach.
Potato chips are calorie-dense and high in fat content, both of which contribute to unintended weight gain. Many popular brands are high in trans fats and sodium, which can result in higher blood pressure.
Don’t forget that most potato chips at the grocery store contain artificial preservatives and fried dyes at a high temperature. This process creates what is called acrylamide.
Acrylamide is a known carcinogen that is found in cigarettes.7
Although they are delicious, potato chips can cause some very undesirable effects as a part of your daily diet.
3. Processed Meats
Processed meats, including hot dogs, sausages, bacon, and most lunch meats, can damage your health.
These meats contain chemicals and excessive amounts of salt that are used in the manufacturing process. A recent study by researchers was published in the journal of BMC Medicine.
In this study, people who ate more than 160 grams of processed meat increased their risk of death by as much as 44 percent over the course of 12 years. The study itself was conducted over 13 years and across ten countries.
The chemicals and preservatives (including sodium nitrates) in processed meats improve their appearance on store shelves. However, these same chemicals are commonly known as carcinogens.
4. Canned Tomatoes
Tomatoes, usually a staple in many healthy diets, can be made hazardous when canned. The can line usually made with a chemical substance called bisphenol-a, more commonly known as BPA.
The FDA and Health Canada are extremely concerned about BPA as it has been shown to alter brain chemistry in research done on rats. As a result, there have been efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to reduce and eventually eliminate BPA from canned food products, not just tomatoes.
The reason canned tomatoes are so so dangerous in particular is that tomatoes are very acidic. Acidic foods can cause more rapid leaching of BPA from the can lining into the food.
The BPA content from canned tomatoes can be so high that some brands warn parents not to feed them to their children.
5. Microwave Popcorn
What’s a movie without popcorn? This convenient, relatively healthy snack is seemingly harmless. The culprit here isn’t the popcorn itself, but the bag that it’s microwaved in.
Typically, microwave popcorn bags are lined with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (or PFOA). Quite a mouthful, right? This toxin is more commonly known to exist in Teflon. A shocking study from the University of California found that this toxin can be linked to infertility in women.
In addition to this, PFOA has been found to significantly increase the risk of liver, bladder, kidney, and testicular cancer in humans in several other studies.
In some popcorn bags, even the popcorn itself has been tainted with GMO-loaded soybean oil and a chemical called diacetyl. This chemical was so harmful that some companies have banned it from their factories due to workers developing lung diseases after working with it.
6. Hydrogenated Oils
These types of oils are notoriously linked to heart disease, immune system deficiency, and of course, cancer. Vegetable oil, one of the most commonly used hydrogenated oil, is so dangerous because many varieties are wide in harmful trans fats. Trans fats are not a healthy kind of fat.
Even the FDA has stated that trans fats should not be regarded as safe for consumption, contrary to their former opinion.
An excellent way to substitute hydrogenated oils in your diet is to use olive, coconut,
For cooking, grapeseed oil is a fantastic option since it has a higher “smoke point” (the point at which the heated oil begins to produce carcinogens) in comparison to other oils.
7. French Fries
These little-fried sticks of potato are salty, delicious, and satisfying. However, by and large, most cheap french fries are made with hydrogenated vegetable oil and topped with a mountain of sodium.
Trans fats and salt (as discussed previously) can increase your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and other numerous diseases.
In addition to this, French fries commonly contain a chemical known as acrylamide. Any food that’s cooked at high temperatures has a chance of containing this.
Acrylamide is also found in cigarette smoke and even building insulation.
It gets even worse: this compound has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
Farmed fish (salmon, cod, tilapia) is chock full of antibiotics, pesticides, flame retardants (crazy!), and pesticides in a recent study at the University of Albany.
If that’s not convincing, I don’t know what is.
Each of those ingredients alone has been linked to cancer, and combined; they make a particularly lethal cocktail.
Over 14 years, a study conducted on American women examined their diet and lifestyle habits. Of the 200,000 postmenopausal women participating, those who consumed at least one alcoholic beverage a day showed almost a 30% increase in breast cancer rates than those who did not drink.
Not convinced? Behind tobacco use, Alcohol is the second leading cause of cancer.
In addition to this, alcohol consumption can be associated with the following: heart failure, stroke, and sudden death.
However, there is a bit of a silver lining. Moderate consumption can be healthy and reduces the risk of heart disease.
10. Artificial Sweetener
Many people have made a mistake in assuming that artificial sugar replacements are better for you than real sugar.
They aren’t just wrong; they’re dead wrong. In addition to causing more weight gain than regular sugar, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame make it extremely difficult to control blood sugar levels. This poses a huge problem for people with diabetes trying to manage insulin levels.
Although the research hasn’t been completed yet, there is evidence that many artificial sweeteners end up breaking down in your body into a substance called DKP.
DKP is a deadly toxin that can produce chemicals that have been linked to brain tumours.
11. Refined Sugars
While not as terrible as artificial sweeteners, refined sugar is still something to avoid.
In addition to spiking your insulin levels, they provide an excellent fuel source for cancer cells.
Back in 1931, researchers found that cancer cells have a taste for sweets. They discovered that tumours rely on sugar to increase cancer cell production and size.
Refined sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, are more easily converted into cancer cell growth than regular sugar.
Sadly, high fructose corn syrup is still found in thousands of products at the neighbourhood supermarket.
12. Smoked Meat
Smoked barbecue meat, which is famously tender and delicious, is also loaded with carcinogens.
During the smoking process, the meat absorbs tar from the smoke, which in turn is absorbed by your body when eaten.
Tar is found in tobacco, which is the leading cause of cancer. Meanwhile, grilled meats (when prepared with the proper cooking oil) can cut the carcinogen content down significantly.
Pass on the smoked brisket next time you go out for dinner.
13. Pickled Foods
Pickles, whether you love them or hate them, have been linked to increased risk of gastric cancer in a recent study done by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 2014
By observing people who consumed pickled items regularly, scientists concluded that they faced a 50% increased risk of gastric cancer than subjects that frequently did not consume pickled products.
While this may be shocking that such a standard food item could lead to increased cancer risk, infrequent consumption of pickles (and pickled products) does not appear to have any negative impact.
In the long run, this research has helped identify a possible reason why gastric cancer rates are so high in densely populated Asian countries, where pickled foods are trendy.
14. “Diet” Foods
Little sugar! No sugar! Fat-free! Sounds familiar, right? What so-called “diet” food packaging should say is:
Artificial sweeteners! Artificial colouring! Loaded with chemicals!
Food dye is particularly nasty since the most common types (Red 40, Yellow 6, and Yellow 5) contain carcinogens known to be linked with cancer.
One of the dyes, Red 3, is still being produced and consumed by thousands (if not millions) of Americans today despite some concerning research linking it to several diseases.
15. Refined White Flour
The odds are that you haven’t heard much about refined white flour or know why it’s something to avoid.
That’s because the food industry has picked the name “refined white flour” to describe what should be called “bleached flour.”
That’s right, after bleaching the flour, studies have found that traces of the chemicals remain in it.
The more highly processed the flour is, the higher the carbohydrate content is as well. However, this alone isn’t too bad; however, consider that a diet high in carbs messes with your blood sugar levels and increases insulin production, which is a favourite food source for cancer cells.