When it comes to cancer, prevention is undoubtedly better than cure. One of the ways to do this is by making informed dietary choices. A number of studies suggest that what you eat can significantly influence your cancer risk. In this article, I will explore eight common everyday foods that could potentially increase your chances of developing cancer.
1. Processed Meats
Processed meats, such as canned meats, hot dogs, sausages, and lunch meats, contain chemicals, including nitrates, nitrites, and others, that have potential cancer-causing effects. These substances can significantly damage cells in your body, leading to the development of cancer, particularly breast and prostate colorectal cancer.
2. Red Meat
A diet high in red meat can also increase the risk of certain types of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. In short, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends limiting the consumption of red meat (such as beef, pork, and lamb) to no more than three portions per week to reduce the risk.
Regular and heavy consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of various types of cancer, including mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast cancers. Even moderate drinking can increase cancer risks.
4. Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks, including soft drinks, fruit drinks, and energy drinks, contribute to weight gain and obesity, which are higher risk factors for several types of cancer, including breast, colon, endometrial, kidney, and esophageal cancers. These beverages often have a high glycemic load, causing blood sugar spikes, inflammation, and insulin resistance.
Recommendation: Replace sugary drinks with water, unsweetened tea, or homemade fruit-infused water.
5. Salt-Preserved Foods
Research links foods preserved in salt, including pickles, salted fish, and cured meats, can increase the likelihood of stomach cancer. This could be due to the damage the high salt content does to the lining of the stomach, potentially leading to cancer over time.
6. Refined Carbohydrates and Sugars
Refined carbs and sugars, found in white bread, white rice, pastries, and many processed foods, can lead to spikes in blood sugar and inflammation in the body, both of which may increase cancer risk.
According to a study, a high intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates may cause colorectal cancer.
7. Fried, Grilled, or Broiled Foods
Cooking methods that involve high temperatures, such as frying, grilling, or broiling, can lead to the formation of compounds named heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have been linked to cancer.
8. Highly Processed Foods
Highly processed foods like chips, cookies, instant noodles, and ready-made meals often contain trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars, all of which can result in obesity. Obesity, as you may already know, has been linked to several types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
While these foods and drinks can potentially increase your risk of developing cancer, it doesn’t mean that they should be entirely eliminated from your diet. Moderation is key. You can significantly reduce your cancer risk by maintaining a balanced and diverse diet rich in whole foods, engaging in regular physical activity, limiting alcohol intake, and avoiding tobacco. Always consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized advice and guidance.
Further Reading: Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore