According to Cancer.org, cancer is “the name given to a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into the surrounding tissues.” The body is made up of trillions of cells, anywhere of which cancer can start.
When a person has cancer, the orderly process by which cells grow and divide to form new cells is broken down, cells become abnormal, old cells that should’ve died survive, and new cells form where they are not needed – forming cancerous tumors. This sounds like a whole lot of information to take in, which is the number one reason why people should avoid carcinogenic foods. Nobody wants to have the big C but almost everyone is at risk – so it’s best to steer clear of these carcinogenic foods.
What Is a Carcinogen?
Another reliable resource for information about cancer, Cancer.org, defines carcinogens as substances and exposures which can lead to cancer. One of these exposures is lifestyle factors, naturally occurring exposures, medical treatments, pollution, workplace exposures and household exposures.
Scientists determine if something can cause cancer through laboratory studies and studies in people. The agency responsible for identifying if something can be classified as carcinogenic is the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization.
Here’s how they have grouped the cancer-causing potential of hundreds of likely candidates:
- Group 1 = Carcinogenic to humans
- Group 2A = Probably carcinogenic to humans
- Group 2B = Possibly carcinogenic to humans
- Group 3 = Unclassifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans
- Group 4 = Probably not carcinogenic to humans
The process of identifying whether an item is carcinogenic or not is very complex. This is why only a little over a hundred items fall under the Group 1 category – and the rest are probable, possible or unknown cancer risks.
Top 10 Carcinogenic Foods to Steer Clear Of
The World Health Organization recently announced that cancer will overtake heart disease as the number one killer of human beings. If around 80% of cancer is determined by lifestyle choices, it is vital to know which food items to steer clear of so that the risks of acquiring the disease are lowered.
Genetics might play a big role in the determination of cancer, but it is something that you cannot do anything about. What you can actively take part in is living a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise. If junk food or anything charred can easily cause cancer, it will definitely not hurt if you will steer clear of it.
To give you an idea about how you can lower the risks of cancer, here is a list of the top ten carcinogenic foods that you should avoid, and might have never known about:
1. Artificial Sweeteners
Some items are dubbed as carcinogens not necessarily because of what they are as food, but because of how they were processed. One example are artificial sweeteners. Although these are made in the first place to substitute sugar for diabetics or those who would like to lose weight, manufacturers need to look for something to come up with that sweet taste.
The culprit is aspartame, an ingredient found in artificial sweeteners. If you find grocery items which are labeled as sugar-free, they were most likely made with artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is found to cause convulsions, and once the sugar kick inhabits your body, you actually begin to crave more sweets. Aside from aspartame, other chemicals which are used to make artificial sweeteners break down in the body and produce a deadly toxin, which in turn produces chemicals which may lead to cancer.
2. Soda Pop
You might be craving for a can of ice-cold soda during very hot days, but it’s better to stick with naturally-flavored water. If you need the bubbly feel, use Seltzer or sparkling mineral water. Canned and bottled sodas are loaded with sugar, which in turn are empty sources of calories. If you will buy a meal from a fast food joint and you will upsize the soda, just imagine how many tablespoons of sugar you are actually consuming with the drink.
Too much sugar may lead to inflammation and insulin resistance, esophageal problems, or simple weight gain. Those colorful drinks are also laden with artificial coloring, so it’s best to quench your thirst with more natural beverages.
So what are you supposed to eat instead? A healthy, non-carcinogenic diet should consist of a wide variety of food from these five groups: fruits; veggies and legumes or beans; lean meats and poultry, eggs, fish, tofu, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans; grain and high-fiber cereal varieties; and milk, yoghurt, and cheese with mostly reduced fat.
3. ‘Diet’ Food
If you’re consuming a quarter pounder burger and you’re trying to absolve yourself of such a diet crime by drinking a diet soda, you are not really doing yourself any favors. There’s really nothing wrong in indulging in a little junk food treat every now and then, but constantly drinking diet soda, low-fat milk or any other food items labeled as such may lead to cancer.
Again, it all boils down to these pre-packaged food items containing aspartame which is an artificial chemical sweetener. When something has the words diet or low-fat on the label, they are usually chemically-processed from super-refined ingredients. They also contain too much sodium, artificial colors and flavorings to make up for the lack of taste. If you want to go on a diet, ditch the artificial diet food altogether and persist on eating natural, healthy meals.
4. Farmed Salmon
Apparently, not all fish is good for your health. More than half of the salmon in the US is farm-raised, and these fish have unnatural diets which are laden with chemicals, pesticides, and antibiotics – all known carcinogens. Wild sockeye salmon is a better, healthier alternative to farmed salmon.
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. In the food industry, these are chemically-grown and modified food items. To make sure that you are not consuming food items with carcinogens, check the food label if it is GMO-free before buying.
6. Highly-Processed White Flours
If you’re a health buff, you might already know that fiber-filled, natural bread is better for you than white bread. But what is it about white flour which makes it a carcinogenic food? Unlike a few generations back when flour millers used to wait for the flour to whiten with time, they now use a chemical called chlorine gas to come up with that powdery-white color. When inhaled in large quantities, chlorine gas is quite lethal. Also, highly-processed white flours have a high glycemic rate which can lead to diabetes. It can also help spread cancer cells by feeding the cells directly.
7. Hydrogenated Oils
These are vegetable oils used to preserve processed foods. Hydrogenated oils are chemically removed from their source, and contain high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids. An excess of this fatty acid can lead to heart disease and expose you to the risk of certain types of cancer, so it should be balanced with Omega-3 fatty acids.
8. Microwavable Popcorn
You might think that nuking that bag of microwavable popcorn when catching up on the latest episodes of your favorite TV shows is harmless – but it’s actually not. The bag itself is lined up with harsh chemicals which can also be found in Teflon-coated pans. The corn itself may not be suspect, but the process of how the corn was grown could be. Soybean oil, propyl gallate, and other preservatives used on microwavable popcorn are not necessarily healthy, so it’s better to stick with stovetop cooking using organic corn kernels.
9. Processed Meats
Processed meats include hotdogs, sausages, bacon, bologna, salami – anything which can be easily stored in your refrigerator that’s ready to fry. Studies show that processed meats contain an excessive amount of salt and chemicals to make the meat taste different and last longer on the shelf. Those who consume more processed meats increase their risk of early death by as much as 44%. Also, the chemical and preservative content of these processed meat products, particularly sodium nitrate and tar for smoked meats, are well-known carcinogens.
10. Refined Sugars
Honey or brown sugar are better sweeteners than refined sugars. These are known to spike insulin labels, and actually promote the growth of cancer cells. Studies show that cancer cells actually use sugars to feed themselves or increase in size, so it’s better to stick with natural sweeteners or get rid of the sweets cravings altogether.
Limit your consumption of fatty red meats, processed meats, highly processed food items, alcohol, as well as heavily salted and pickled foods. A high-energy, low-fiber diet is best, especially when combined with exercise and steering clear of all carcinogenic foods. With these tips in mind, you can have a healthier lifestyle which is hopefully far from the risks of acquiring this dreaded disease.