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Don’t Go There: 7 Foods That Can Raise Your Risk of Cancer

They look tempting. The taste can be addictive. And, in most cases, these seven foods that can raise your risk for cancer are easy to prepare. But from a health standpoint, they are seven types of foods that, if you eat them regularly, can up your risk for cancer.


What’s most interesting is that, as Business Insider highlights, you can eliminate these cancer risks from your diet by simply crossing processed foods off your grocery list.

These seven major cancer-causers are:

  1. Candy
  2. Chips
  3. Soda
  4. Frozen dinners
  5. Instant ramen
  6. Processed meats
  7. Sugar

When it comes to processed foods, the secret’s out: They lead to cancer and early death. Not only that, on the flip side, low intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and animal-based omega-3s account for more than 45 percent of all cardiometabolic deaths when coupled with excessive consumption of processed foods and sugar.

Not only that, those who eat more processed and ultraprocessed foods have higher rates of obesity, heart problems, diabetes and cancer, leading researchers to actually predict that obesity will soon overtake smoking as a leading cause of cancer deaths.

Unfortunately, Americans not only eat a preponderance of processed food, but 60 percent of it is ultraprocessed — products at the far end of the "significantly altered" spectrum, or what you could typically purchase at a gas station, such as candy, sodas, chips and even some frozen dinner products that you heat up right there in the station’s store.

When it comes to sugar, it’s been estimated that as much as 40 percent of American health care expenditures are for diseases directly related to the overconsumption of sugar. From the medical end of that, in the U.S., more than $1 trillion is spent on treating sugar and junk food-related diseases each year.

So, besides things that contain added sugars, how do you define “ultraprocessed”? As a general rule, they are foods that contain:

  • Ingredients that are not traditionally used in cooking
  • Unnaturally high amounts of sugar, processed oils and unhealthy fats
  • Artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and other additives
  • Processing aids such as emulsifiers, defoaming agents and more
  • Preservatives and chemicals put in there solely to extend shelf life
  • Genetically engineered ingredients that are often heavily contaminated with pesticide and herbicide residues

When making food choices, it’s also important to look at HOW the food has been prepared, even when the food you’re eating is a “whole” food, i.e., not processed. For example, eating fried potatoes such as french fries, hash browns and potato chips two or more times per week may double your risk of death from all causes.

The warning list could go on and on, but the most important thing to know is how to focus on foods that will help you get and stay in good health, rather than increase your risk for chronic disease and cancer.

You can do this by focusing on raw, fresh foods and avoiding as many processed foods as possible. This means if it comes in a can, plastic package or box to heat and eat, or if it’s a ready-to-eat bag of just about anything, it’s most likely processed — and something you need to avoid.

Also, shop around the perimeter of the grocery store where most of the whole foods reside, such as meat, fruits, vegetables, eggs and cheese. Not everything around the perimeter is healthy, but you'll avoid many of the ultraprocessed foods this way.

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