11 Cancer Causing Foods You Should Avoid

As per the World Cancer Report-2014 published by WHO, in 2012, over 8 million people died of cancer, and another 14 million became victims of this fatal disease worldwide. New cancer cases are expected to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades.

According to some US cancer experts, half the cases of cancer diagnosed in the US are preventable by making healthy changes in lifestyle, especially diet habits.

Foods Causing Cancer

We have food and drinks for nourishment and strengthening the body’s immunity system. However, many of the foods we eat, especially delicious junk foods, do more harm to the body than good.

Regularly consuming certain unhealthy foods could cause various cancerous conditions in the body.

Of course, the very same foods that lead to the development of heart diseases, diabetes, and chronic inflammation also cause cancer.

About 50% of cancer incidences in people are caused by unhealthy foods and drinks (cancer foods); the rest are caused by genetic disorders, radiation, viruses, cancer-causing toxic chemicals, pollutants, smoking, and drug abuse.

In this article, we shall exclusively discuss 11 types of commonly used foods and drinks that cause cancer.

Perhaps, you will be surprised to learn that many cancer-causing foods are already being consumed by you regularly or occasionally. Of course, if you continue to consume them regularly, you are at high risk of acquiring some types of cancer in the future.

1. Grilled Red Meat And Processed Meat

Most of us enjoy and relish the great taste of steak prepared on the grill.

Meat is good for health, but grilled and processed meats are not.

The foods prepared on grills, especially the meat, will release heterocyclic aromatic amines, a known carcinogen that increases the risk of cancer and heart diseases.

All types of highly processed meats, like hot dogs and bacon prepared at a high temperature, also produce carcinogens.

When meat (especially red meat) is cooked at high temperatures, its molecular and chemical structure changes to form a carcinogen.

The Processed and stored meat, usually sold in sealed packets and tin containers, also contains lots of sodium and chemical preservatives that are bad for health.[6]

Smoked meat is even worse as it is more likely to be contaminated by carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

2. Hydrogenated Oils

The vegetable oils extracted with the help of chemicals are known as hydrogenated oils.

The high amount of Omega 6 fatty acids found in these oils is bad for health as it has a high risk of causing cancer and heart diseases. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids must be proportionate for them to be good for health.

The trans-fatty acid in hydrogenated oils contains properties that can give rise to the most common cancers affecting the skin, colon, pancreas, and rectum.

The excess consumption of omega-6 fats adversely affects health by causing unusual changes in the structure of our cell membranes.

The hydrogenated oils also contain added chemicals used for preservation and giving flavor to the oil. These chemicals also can lead to the development of cancer.

3. Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)

In recent years, agricultural industries worldwide are extensively using genetically modified food crops to achieve buffer harvest.

The GMO techniques have helped farmers increase the mass production of corn, soy, and other commonly used vegetables.

A few recent research results from studies conducted on rats indicated the increased possibility of cancer disease by using GMO foods.

However, any conclusive evidence on GMOs’ risks in causing cancer is still wanted as most of the studies had substantial errors in their findings.

GMO foods are good to be avoided as they are also found to have other adverse health effects besides the risk of causing cancer.

4. Canned Foods

Canned foods and drinks appear very attractive and healthy. But they are not as healthy as you think.

Most cans are lined with a synthetic organic compound called bisphenol-A (BPA). The foods and drinks that stay in contact with this compound absorb the chemical properties that have the risk of causing breast cancer, prostate cancer, and others.

However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) does not fully agree with the evidence on the cancer-causing effects of BPA as there are no clear and verified proofs for it.[13]

5. Popcorn Heated In Microwave

Microwave popcorn is one of the favorite snacks for most of us, especially while watching a movie in a theater or watching sporting events.

A chemical in the nonstick coating on the inside of the popcorn bag produces a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid when exposed to the fumes from freshly popped corn.

A study in 1993 by Dr. Frank Gilliland published in “The Journal of Occupational Medicine” explained that workers exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid had an increased rate of cancer mortality.

Some studies have suggested the possibility of lung cancer in people who regularly inhale the fumes of freshly popped corn. But there is NO proven evidence to prove this claim.

Most of the popcorn is made of corn and oils sourced from GMO farms as they are cheap and tastier than the organic varieties. We have discussed above how these GMO foods are cancer-causing agents.

The chemical ingredient used for adding artificial butter flavoring to popcorn contains diacetyl, which is toxic to humans.

6. Smoked, Salted, And Pickled Foods

The smoked, salted, or pickled foods taste excellent appetizers too. But these foods are only healthy for some reasons.

Regular consumption of foods preserved by salting and pickling is associated with an increased risk of stomach, nose, and throat cancers. For example, gastric cancer is very common in Japan, where people commonly use many preserved traditional foods.

The manufacturers of pickles usually add harmful preservatives such as nitrates or nitrites which are usually meant for increasing the shelf-life.

Consumption of pickles and salted foods accumulates additives in your body. At a later stage, they become toxic and cause cellular inflammation leading to different types of cancer.

The smoked foods that contain preservatives, when heated at high temperatures, nitrates turn into dangerous nitrites.

7. Refined Sugar And Artificial Sweeteners

Refined sugar is the most commonly used sweetener in cookies and cakes.

Refined sugar has a high amount of calories. Regular consumption of all those foods containing refined sugar will lead to excess weight gain and obesity.

One of the biggest health risks associated with obesity is the development of various types of cancers that affect the breast, prostate, uterine, pancreatic, and colorectal.

Even artificial sweeteners or ‘sugar-free’ sweeteners are not safe for health.

According to the National Cancer Institute, few cancer studies have shown artificial sweeteners as potential cancer agents in lab rats. It is better to avoid artificial sweeteners as their cancer effects on rats can also happen to humans.

8. Soda and Carbonated Beverages

Regular intake of soda and sweetened soft drinks like Coke are bad for health and can lead to the development of common types of cancers.

These beverages mostly contain a lot of fructose corn syrup, colors, and many other flavors adding chemicals and additives.

The rich sugar and fructose content makes people obese and diabetic; also, these drinks have zero nutritional value. These drinks even suppress the nutrition our body is supposed to absorb from normal diets.

If the soda or Coke has the label “Diet,” it simply tells about aspartame, a dangerous artificial sweetener capable of causing cancer.

According to the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, drinking one or more sodas daily could expose you to 4-methylimidazole, a possible carcinogen.

9. Farmed Fish

The quality and goodness of fish from commercial farms could be better than wild fish.

Fish, such as carp, salmon, tilapia, and catfish, are treated with pesticides, antibiotics, and other carcinogenic chemicals that can cause cancer.

Also, these fish from farms do not contain as many omega-3 fatty acids as in wild fish.

10. Refined Grain Flour

Refined grain flour or white flour is bad for health and has very little nutritional value compared to whole grains.

Most commercially sold refined white flour is bleached with chlorine gas to give bright white color to the flour, which can result in health hazards like cancer and stomach disorders.

White flour also ranks very high on the glycemic index because of its high-calorie content without much nutritional value.

All foods prepared with white flour raise the blood sugar level and cause insulin resistance. As a result of this, processed grains can cause diabetes and bad cholesterol arising out of sugar fat. Of course, all these bad health conditions could lead to the development of cancer.

11. Chips And Fried Foods

Most of us love to munch on potato chips and other fried savories.

Many commercially sold chips and fried foods contain a lot of trans-fats, chemical flavors, additives, and preservatives.

As per the American Cancer Society’s suggestions and recommendations, acrylamide is created when chips are roasted at high temperatures, a type of carcinogen that can cause cancer.

Final Thought

Most of these foods and drinks are commonly used by us for their great taste and addictive quality.

However, the regular consumption of any of these food items we discussed above increases the risk of developing major fatal diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disorders.

It is wise to choose healthy foods that do not contain any cancer-causing chemical ingredients. The best alternative to these harmful foods is organic foods, including naturally grown vegetables, fruits, grains, meat, fish, and dairy products.

The foods that come labeled as “light’, “diet,” or “fat-free” are also avoidable as they are processed foods that usually have added chemicals.

It is better to avoid all junk foods and fast foods as almost all of them are high in calories and low in nutritional value.

Now that you have a fair idea about cancer-causing foods, it is up to you to be serious about avoiding them.