These Common Foods May Be Increasing Your Cancer Risk

There are many factors that can contribute to one’s cancer risk. Genetics, exposure to toxins, and diet are three serious factors that can affect whether or not cancer strikes. While many foods have been known to aid in cancer prevention, there are some that can be responsible for the deadly disease. Here are 15 foods to avoid if you want to lower your cancer risk.

Canned tomatoes

Canned tomatoes

It is best to buy your tomatoes fresh. |

Most cans are lined with a dangerous chemical known as BPA. Multiple studies have been done that prove BPA, even at very low levels, can affect the human body and potentially cause cancer. It’s a synthetic estrogen that can enter the body and disrupt hormones. BPA is also commonly found in plastic products like water bottles.

Next: Leave this stuff to the movie theaters. 

Microwave popcorn

Popcorn in a bowl

Make your popcorn on the stove to avoid harmful chemicals in the bag. |

Liver and prostate cancer have both been linked to a certain chemical found in microwave popcorn. Chemicals in the nonstick coating inside the bag decompose to form perfluorooctanoic acid, which is linked to the deadly disease. A study of factory workers who were exposed to the chemical found that the workers had a higher rate of mortality from cancer.

Next: You may want to switch to olive oil. 

Vegetable oil

Olive oil

Prepare your foods in olive or coconut oil instead. |

Scientists recently found that frying foods in vegetable oil can release toxic chemicals. When heated, oils like corn oil and sunflower oil released high concentrations of aldehydes, which are chemicals that have been linked to cancer, heart disease, and dementia. Frying in olive oil or coconut oil is recommended.

Next: Wild-caught is the better option. 

Farmed salmon

Fresh salmon

Always go for wild caught salmon. |

Salmon that are farm raised have a higher concentration of cancer-causing pollutants in them. However, it depends on where the salmon comes from. Salmon farmed in Northern Europe has the highest concentration of pollutants, and even eating a partial serving once per month can increase cancer risk. Salmon farmed in Chile was deemed safe to eat.

Next: Building strong bones could increase your cancer risk. 


Milk in a CVS refrigerator

The research findings on milk have changed drastically over the years. | Karen Bennett/The Cheat Sheet

Dairy products have been linked to breast cancer, but only in pre-menopausal women. Studies have shown that the high fat content in products such as whole milk or butter can increase your cancer risk. Women who eat more than two servings per day of either of these are at a higher risk. More research still needs to be done to confirm this.

Next: Think twice about ordering this at a baseball game. 

Processed meat

Hamburger and hot dogs on grill

Processed meats have been linked to cancer. |

You may want to rethink ordering that foot-long hot dog at the game. According to the World Health Organization, researchers found that eating 50 grams of processed meats per day can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. That’s equivalent to eating four strips of bacon or one hot dog each day.

Next: Stick to chicken. 

Red meat

Sliced grilled beef barbecue on a wooden board

Go easy on the steak. |

The World Health Organization has also classified red meat as a probable carcinogen. Studies done about red meat found that it increases the risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. The American Cancer Society says that the “occasional hamburger” is okay, but Americans should be eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Next: Avoid this sugary drink. 


bottles of coca-cola

Cutting back on soda is a great idea. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The coloring that is added into sodas, specifically colas and root beers, to give them a brownish hue is linked to an increased cancer risk. The coloring process releases a chemical known as 4-MEI that consumers are then exposed to any time they drink soda. The highest risk comes to anyone who drinks more than one can of soda per day.

Next: Read this before you head down the produce aisle. 

Inorganic produce

spraying pesticides on crops

Pesticides have been linked to a higher risk of lymphoma in children. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Many people believe that eating inorganic produce will lead to cancer because of pesticide consumption. A recent report suggests that pesticides have been linked to a higher leukemia and lymphoma risk in children. However, there is no definitive research that pesticides in food cause cancer. It is still good to act with caution and purchase organic products when possible.

Next: You may want to avoid that third glass of wine. 


four different alcoholic drinks in glasses

Overdoing it on the alcohol increases your cancer risk. |

The National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health considers alcohol to be a known carcinogen. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are clear patterns between alcohol consumption and multiple types of cancers, such as neck esophageal, liver, and breast cancers. Heavy alcohol consumption (three or more drinks per day, or more than seven drinks per week) increases one’s risk of developing cancer.

Next: It’s hard to avoid this, but the less, the better. 

Refined sugars

Donuts and candy with sugar spread and written text in unhealthy nutrition

Go for fruit if you have a craving for something sweet. |

Refined sugars feed cancer cells. The glucose in refined sugars helps to fuel the cancer cells, increasing the risk of cancer development and making it harder for a cancer patient to be cured. It has also been found that cancer thrives in an acidic environment, and sugar is highly acidic.

Next: Rethink reaching for that packet of Splenda. 

Artificial sweeteners

Container holding packets of artificial sweetener.

Artificial sweeteners aren’t any better than sugar. |

A study done in mice found that artificial sweeteners increased the risk of developing leukemia. For that reason, many scientists believe that high doses of products like Splenda can cause cancer. However, the FDA has argued that although there is evidence of cancer in rats, there is no evidence of cancer in humans. For those trying to avoid the disease at all costs, it is best to be wary about incorporating artificial sweeteners into your diet.

Next: Yes, a grilled cheese might cause cancer. 


Toast bread

It’s best to go for wheat products. |

Foods with a high glycemic index, such as white bread, can increase the risk of developing certain cancers. A study out of the University of Texas found that those who eat a diet with a high glycemic index can increase lung cancer risk up to 49%. However, more research still needs to be done. It’s important to avoid simple carbohydrates like white bread and bagels and opt for a whole wheat diet instead.

Next: This has been linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer. 

Saturated fats

fast food snacks and drink on table

Cut back on the fast food to lower your consumption of saturated fats. |

A diet high in saturated fats has been linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer. Too much saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, and researchers believe that could be responsible for the link. The results were drawn from a survey of about 1,800 American men.

Next: If you lower these, you can lower your risk of many diseases. 

Trans fats

bags of chips

Trans fats will do your body no favors. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Trans fats can increase the risk of many types of diseases, and cancer is no exception. A study concluded that a lower diet in trans fats can lower the overall risk of developing any type of cancer, plus other diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The cancer risk could be lowered by as much as 7% if people lowered their trans fat intake to around 1% of their diet.

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