Why Processed Meats and Other Foods Put You at Risk for Cancer

Our diet has a significant impact on our long-term health. Some foods we eat every day can increase or decrease the risk of various illnesses, including cancer. You probably have a general idea of which food you should consume, but what about which ones to avoid? Here is a list of potential cancer-causing foods you should stay clear of:

1. Processed Meat

Processed meat is preserved through curing, drying, or canning to increase its shelf life, placing it at the very top of the list of cancer-causing foods. This type of meat uses a lot of nitrates and nitrites, chemical compounds linked to cancer. Examples of processed meat include:

  • Ham
  • Sausages
  • Frankfurter hotdogs
  • Corned Beef
  • Canned or lunch meat
  • Meat jerky
  • Bacon and pancetta

As an alternative, you can use white meat (chicken, turkey), white fish, tuna or salmon salad, or meat substitutes such as Tofu, Seitan or Quorn.

2. Red Meat

Classified as Group 2A (‘probably cancerogenic to humans’) is only slightly better for our health than processed meat. To reduce cancer risk, try not to eat more than 65-100g of cooked red meat per week. You can also swap red meat for white meat, fish, beans or pulses.

3. Alcohol

We all enjoy the occasional drink, but actually, we should reduce the intake or stop consuming it. Why? Because it is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning there is plenty of evidence of carcinogenicity in humans. Some types of cancers linked to alcohol consumption are the cancer of the breast, liver, mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach and bowel.

4. Sugar

Although sugar isn’t directly linked to cancer, overeating sugar can lead to obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 13 types of cancer are linked to being overweight or obese. These are the biggest sources of added sugars in a typical American’s diet:

  • Candy
  • Soft drinks
  • Pies, cookies, and cakes
  • Fruit drinks
  • Milk products and dairy desserts (ice cream, sweetened milk, sweetened yogurt).

5. Potato chips

Potato chips are rich in salt and saturated fat, both of which are not good for your health. If that wasn’t enough, potato chips contain acrylamide, a carcinogenic chemical that occurs in food cooked at high temperatures—and also found in cigarettes.

6. Canned Food

Cans are lined with the dangerous chemical BPA, a hormone disruptor directly linked to cancer. The BPA gets slowly absorbed by canned food and becomes the main reason for cancer. Thankfully, new advances in packaging offer cartons, boxes and other flexible packaging.

7. Microwave popcorn

The microwave bag in which popcorn is packed is lined with a product called PFOA. PFOA has been linked to being the reason behind liver, kidney, pancreas, and bladder cancer.

More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us  to make an appointment and discuss your options.