The food we eat is at the heart of many cancers. In fact, up to 70% of cancers are thought to be preventable through diet. The other 30% has to do with genetics and environmental factors that you can’t control. Here are some of the foods you must avoid to steer clear of any form of cancer.
CANNED FOOD: Canned food tends to contain really high levels of salt or sugar but that’s not the main reason it is bad for you. It’s actually the cans that contain the food. They are often lined with the dangerous chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which is a known hormone disrupter that has also been linked to cancer. BPA will leech into whatever food comes in contact with it, especially things that are naturally acidic, such as tomatoes. Eat your produce fresh or frozen instead, or only buy canned products that are labeled as BPA-free.
SUGAR DRINKS: Soda drinks are really bad for you. Sugar is necessary in small amounts, but is also cancer cells’ favourite food and sodas contain enough to choke a horse. It also has no redeeming nutritional value and puts you at greater risk of cancer due to the artificial chemicals and colourings that are added.
If it’s a caffeine energy boost you need, a much healthier option is lightly sweetened tea or coffee, both of which have anti-cancer properties. To get the bubbles in soda without the negative health consequences, buy carbonated water and add a touch of citrus juice for flavour.
AVOID POTATO CHIPS: Chips aren’t healthy because they contain a lot of salt and saturated fat which is overwhelming to your body’s digestive system. The reason they increase your cancer risk is something called acrylamide, a carcinogenic chemical that occurs anytime food is cooked to a high temperature.
Frying potatoes produces a lot of it, but it’s also the reason why health experts advise against charring your meat during cooking. Acrylamide is also found in cigarettes and is part of the reason they are so deadly.
SMOKED OR PROCESSED MEAT: Red meat in general should be limited due to its high fat content, but any meat that has been processed is best avoided almost entirely. That won’t be easy because a lot of tasty products are on the list, including bacon, lunch meat, sausage, jerky and smoked barbecue.
A lot of these foods are preserved using nitrates and nitrites, which are linked to cancer. And even though smoking is an age-old technique for preserving food, it causes meat to take on tar in the process. It’s bad in cigarettes and just as dangerous in food.
FARMED SALMON: You may be wondering what is left that you can eat, especially in terms of protein but rest assured that fish can still be a very healthy choice. Naturally lean, it contains high levels of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids that your body really needs.
Unfortunately, farmed salmon live an overcrowded, high stress life and are fed an unnatural diet full of antibiotics and cancer-causing chemicals. As a result, their meat is high in polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and mercury all dangerous stuff for humans to consume. However, wild sockeye salmon is a whole different story and a great meal choice if you can find it at the grocery store. Don’t eat farmed salmon as the natural ones are better.
MICROWAVE POPCORN: Much like canned foods, the problem with microwave popcorn is the way it is stored. Most microwave bags are lined with a product called Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to the occurrence of pancreas, kidney, liver, bladder and testicular cancer.
When you pop the corn in the microwave, PFOA coats the finished product right along with the artificial trans-fat “butter”. Popcorn itself can be a healthy snack, however, if you use an air popper and then toss it with a little bit of garlic-infused olive oil or a flavorful dried herb mix.
WHITE FLOUR: Whole grains are very healthy, but the processing that creates refined white flour completely strips away the value. White flour is also given its colour by a blast of chlorine gas, not something you want to be eating.
Besides being nutritionally void, white flour has an extremely high glycemic index, which means that it breaks down into sugar in the body, spiking blood glucose and insulin levels along with it. This state in the body is thought to feed cancer cells. Try to stick to baked goods that use whole grain flours.
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP: High fructose corn syrup is dangerous because, even though it comes from natural corn, the sweetness is highly concentrated. Foods that contain it are likely to put your blood sugar through the roof and create the perfect environment for cancer cells to thrive.
It is not thought to cause cancer directly, but it’s dangerous to create conditions in your body that are ideal for cancer to grow. Avoiding packaged foods and cooking at home is the best way to avoid high fructose corn syrup all together.
ALCOHOL: Excess alcohol consumption is bad for you for lots of reasons. Drinking to excess makes your liver and kidneys work extra hard, not to mention triggers a whole host of bad decisions from your stupefied brain.
Studies also indicate that consuming too much alcohol puts you at greater risk for cancer of the mouth, esophagus, liver, colon and rectum. How much is too much? In general, one drink per day for women and two for men is considered safe, but there’s no real health benefit to drinking at all. Red wine does contain some heart healthy resveratrol, but so do red grapes.
PICKLED FOOD: Pickling is another form of processing that adds nitrates or nitrites, salt and artificial colouring to food. In much the same way that too much alcohol can cause cancer in the parts of the body it touches directly, pickled foods are linked to cancer of the digestive track, especially the stomach and colon.
If you really love pickles, take the time to make them at home so that you can control the level of salt and avoid artificial pickling solutions.
HYDROGENATED OIL: You might think that oil from vegetables ought to be healthy, but this is another case where processing of natural products makes them dangerous. Oil cannot be extracted from whole vegetables naturally, so they undergo a chemical extraction process.
Then, the oil is coloured and the natural scent is removed to make the finished product look appealing. This chemical process is what makes the oil hydrogenated. It is found in many processed foods, added for texture and to preserve them, but hydrogenated oils affect the cells’ structure and flexibility, upping the chance for cancer to develop.