If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information on what constitutes a safe and healthy diet, you’re not alone. With more than one million new cancer diagnoses every year, potentially carcinogenic foods are among the biggest concern. There are dangerous ingredients lurking in many of the foods available in stores and restaurants today, without any warning labels.
It can be daunting to avoid them all, but here are the top 7 cancer-causing foods you’d be better off cutting out of your diet:
- Red Meat: While red meat is overwhelmingly popular, a recent study performed by scientists at UC San Diego found red meat led an increased risk of cancer. Time to swap out beef patties for some turkey or veggie burgers!
- Dairy Products: Cheese, milk and other dairy products are also common ingredients in the modern-day diet. And one study published in the International Journal of Cancer, found that men who ate at least 3 servings of dairy products per day, had a 141% increased risk of prostate cancer. If you’re worried about increasing your cancer risk you may want to consider non-dairy milk and yogurt alternative, and limit your intake of cheeses.
- Processed Meat: Not the sandwich meats, too! The truth is in the research, which shows even small amounts of processed meats eaten daily, such as bacon, hot dogs, sausage and cold cuts, increase the likelihood of colorectal cancer. Some of the suspected culprits include the amount of nitrites/nitrates in processed meat, and the smoking process many of the meats undergo. Moderation may be the biggest key here.
- Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils: Commonly processed foods such as bread, pastries, French fries, pizza dough and cake mix all contain vegetable oil. Not to mention it is commonly used in cooking. But, vegetable oil has been confirmed by researchers at French Institute of Health and Medical Research to double the risk of breast cancer. It’s time to switch it out for healthier oils like olive and coconut.
- Canned Goods: Buying canned food is convenient and usually ensures a long shelf life, but it is important to understand the costs that come with them. The metal cans used for food storage contain BPA, which has been linked to cancer. Many other countries have already banned BPA use in other products, so it is wise to opt for fresh foods when available.
- Refined/White Flour: Flour is the main ingredient in bread — a staple in the modern-day diet. Many find it hard to imagine life without bread, but this too has been found to have links to cancer. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that eating the equivalent of 5 slices of white bread per day, increases the likelihood of kidney cancer two-fold. If you are going to opt for bread, it is best to choose a whole-wheat variety that doesn’t contain white flow, or a gluten-free option.
- Refined/White Sugar: You probably saw this one coming. White, refined sugar is the main ingredient in beloved indulgences from soft drinks, to sweet coffees, to candy bars, to most processed foods. What is worrisome is the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that sugar causes cancer via two biochemical pathways. High levels of blood glucose are tied to cancer. With this in mind, it is best to avoid refined sugar and maintain healthier blood sugar levels.
It can be disheartening to see so many foods linked to cancer. The good news is the abundance of healthy alternatives is growing every day as consumers educate themselves and demand increases. And by looking to whole natural foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats and seafood, you can give your body the nutrients it needs, without the collateral damage of toxic ingredients. The best advice is to gradually remove the damaging foods, and replace them with healthy alternatives.