Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally. Certain foods are deemed co-carcinogenic or have the potential to cause cancer. There is strong evidence linking diet with an increased incidence of specific cancers. Foods that increase the risk of cancer include:
Foods high in sugars and simple carbohydrates: Sugary foods that cause a fluctuation in blood sugar levels might increase the risk of certain cancers. Those consuming foods high in simple carbohydrates are at risk of colon cancer. Having diabetes increases the risk of colon and rectal cancer. Examples include soda, sweets, white rice, white bread, etc.
- Processed meat: Patients consuming processed meats such as hot dogs, salami, and bacon are at an increased risk of colon and rectal cancer.
- Red meats: Red meat consumption has a strong correlation with cancer of the gut.
- Dairy: Excessive consumption of dairy products may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
- Foods cooked at high temperatures: Foods consumed through grilling, deep-frying, and barbecuing may be harmful because it may cause the build-up of carcinogens such as heterocyclic amines (HA) and advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) that are considered harmful.
- Alcohol: Most of the cancer deaths worldwide may be directly linked to excessive alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk of breast cancer and upper respiratory tract cancers.
- Microwave popcorn: The popcorn bag usually contains a chemical that keeps kernels from sticking to it. As the bag heats up, the coating decomposes, creating perfluorooctanoic acid, which has been linked to an increased risk of liver and prostate cancers.
- Canned foods: Ready-to-cook food cans are lined with a chemical named bisphenol A (BPA). This is harmful because it dissolves in the food. Canned foods may cause hormonal imbalances, damaging the DNA and increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer.
- Pickled food: It has been found that pickling increases nitrates, salt, and artificial coloring content in the food and is directly linked to digestive tract cancer that affects the stomach and colon.
- Hydrogenated oils: Hydrogenated oils are vegetable oils, which cannot be naturally extracted such as olive oil, soy, or canola oil; they must be chemically removed. They are commonly used in many foods to preserve and keep their shelf life. However, they may cause cancer, birth defects, heart diseases, and many other fatalities.
- White flour: Refining the flour removes all the nutritional value. This refined flour is further bleached with chlorine gas to make it appealing for the customer. This bleached flour has a high glycemic index, which means that it is rich in carbohydrates. Foods having a high glycemic index are known to increase blood sugar levels, which in turn directly feeds the cancerous cells.
- Farmed fish: Farmed fish are one of the common means of exposure to cancer. They are raised in large quantities by fish farmers, where they are administered to antibiotics, antivirals, pesticides, and a lot of other carcinogenic chemicals. These carcinogenic chemicals may also cause cancer when consumed.
- Aflatoxin infested food: Aflatoxin is a fungus that affects peanuts in musty storehouses. Having food infested with aflatoxin has been known to cause cancers of the liver.
Which foods may protect us from cancers?
Including more of vegetables and fruits in the diet can protect us from cancer:
- Vegetables: Raw vegetables or salads such as tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels, and sprouts.
- Diet: A diet is considered healthy if an individual is consuming foods high in dietary fiber, such as grains and cereals.
- Fruits: Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are considered good for health and have cancer-fighting ability.
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