No matter how you look at it, cancer has always been one of the scariest diseases. If not careful, anyone can fall victim to this disease. The most alarming fact is even with numerous medical and technological advancements, there is no substantial cure for cancer. Hence, it is important to take preemptive steps to stay safe. In this article, we will discuss all about carcinogens, carcinogenic foods and top 10 carcinogenic foods to avoid.
What Are Carcinogenic Foods?
In simple terms, Carcinogenic foods are the source of a substance called carcinogen. These carcinogens are a cancer-causing substance which can be found in the form of tobacco or it could even be caused by exposure to UV radiation. How this works is:
- the carcinogens attacks the DNA causing it to mutate.
- this mutation can then lead to cancer.
Carcinogens are classified into certain groups depending on how much they can affect a human being, these groups are listed below.
- Group 1
Group 1 carcinogens are proven to cause cancer in humans which is why carcinogenic foods containing group 1 carcinogens should definitely be avoided.
- Group 2A
These carcinogens are highly likely to cause cancer to humans.
- Group 2B
Due to lack of much evidence, these carcinogens have a relatively low risk of causing cancer in humans but it is still safer to avoid them.
- Group 3
These carcinogens do not classify as cancer-causing sources in humans.
- Group 4
The carcinogenic foods with group 4 carcinogens are much less likely to cause cancer.
What Are Some Types Of Cancer Caused By Carcinogenic Foods?
This will be a list of types of cancer that carcinogenic foods can cause.
- Breast Cancer
Carcinogenic foods can cause breast cancer in women.
- Stomach Cancer
Use of high amounts of salt along with other carcinogenic foods are linked to high risk of cancer in women.
- Liver Cancer
Carcinogenic foods are reported as one of the sources of liver cancer in men.
- Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is reportedly caused by high amount of protein intake, according to some research.
Common In Both Men And Women
- Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is found in the colon or the rectum and both men and women can fall victim to it by consumption of carcinogenic foods.
- Lung Cancer
The risk of lung cancer in both women and men can increase by consumption of certain types of foods such as those rich in saturated fat, or foods with refined carbohydrates, etc.
Also, read about: Foods that Lower Cholesterol.
What Are The Top 10 Carcinogenic Foods To Avoid?
Finally, we have arrived at the heart of the discussion, the following is a list of carcinogenic foods to avoid or moderate the consumption of, to reduce the risk of cancer. The list may include foods as well as beverages.
If you like to indulge in a few drinks occasionally with your friends then you’re not the only one.
- Most of us consume alcohol from time to time and research have surfaced which show evidence that moderate consumption of alcohol can actually help in leading a healthy life.
- True for most scenarios, the phrase, “too much of something is always bad”, is justly applicable for alcohol.
- Several studies came to the conclusion that alcohol is a ‘group 1’ carcinogen.
- Hence people consuming alcohol on a fairly regular basis are at great risk of cancer.
- Consuming alcohol can cause mouth or throat cancer as it affects the lining of the mouth.
- Although the safe bet is to avoid drinking alcohol at all cost since we’ve established it as a carcinogenic food or beverage, but, as mentioned earlier, moderate use is also relatively healthy.
2. Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn is the best companion to go with a movie. But, did you know that if you use a microwave to prepare popcorns you are at higher risk of catching cancer?
- Popcorns contain a “group 2B” carcinogen called perfluorooctanoic acid making it one of the carcinogenic foods to avoid.
- The fumes released by the preprocessed butter used to make the microwave popcorns are also very toxic to the human body.
- If you don’t want to spoil your movie watching regime by missing out on popcorns, then try air popping them which is a better and healthier way to cook them.
3. Canned Foods
Canned foods are time and again proven to cause one health problem or the other.
- It is not so much the food itself but the container in which the food is kept which raises a health concern.
- The reason behind such concern is the use of a chemical called BPA in the making of a can.
- While there is no evidence linking BPA to carcinogen there are studies which show that BPA can affect the genes of a rat and ultimately affecting the way its brain works.
- Reports from various articles and health journals have shown that BPA even without any trace evidence of being a carcinogen, can still cause or at least increase the risk of cancer.
- Hence we conclude canned foods to be one of the carcinogenic foods to avoid.
4. Grilled Foods
The sizzling noise and the smoky aroma from the freshly grilled batch of chicken or cottage cheese can bring water to most of our mouths but you may not found them all that tasty after reading this.
- HCA or heterocyclic aromatic amines are carcinogens of the ‘group 2A’ which are present in grilled foods.
- The process of grilling your food, especially if it’s chicken, can change the food’s structure on a molecular level.
- This change can turn your grilled food into a carcinogenic food.
- The safer option is to boil or bake your food.
Related reads: Grilled Food Really Cause Cancer?
5. Refined Sugar
Did you know that the extra teaspoon of sugar you add to your tea or coffee can cause cancer? Here’s how.
- Refined sugar is produced by processing sugar cane or sugar beets.
- Refined sugar is infamous for its high risk of diabetes and blood sugar.
- While refined sugar does not contain carcinogens, it is still linked to cancer.
- The reason is, cancer cells need a lot of energy to grow since sugar can increase blood sugar level which comprises glucose, it increases the risk of cancer cells to grow.
- Hence foods with foods with refined sugar are put on the list of carcinogenic foods to avoid even though they don’t contain carcinogens.
6. Smoked Foods
Those smoked ribs that Frank Underwood ate at Freddy’s BBQ joint in the show “House of Cards”, do seem enticing, don’t they? Unfortunately, they too made it to the list of carcinogenic foods to avoid.
- Smoking is the method of preparing food that can be traced back to prehistoric times, it was used to preserve the protein content of the meat being prepared.
- Extensive research on the method of smoking food concluded that smoked foods can cause cancer.
- The process of smoking food is linked to the ‘group 1 or 2 A and B’ carcinogen called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAH.
- Hence, we consider smoked foods to be one of the carcinogenic foods to avoid.
7. Pickled Foods
Picked foods have often come under the scrutiny of being cancerous in nature.
- Consumption of pickled foods is considered as one of the causes of gastric cancer.
- Pickled foods contain nitrate and nitrite along with salt.
- Nitrate and nitrate are prime causes of stomach cancer.
- So, pickled food should be avoided or taken in moderation as they too are on the list of carcinogenic foods to avoid.
8. Farm Fish
Fish is a good source of vitamin B12 and B6 and you may find many bodybuilders add fish in their diet as well as take fish supplements such as fish oil because it helps in burning body fat and is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. But here’s how fish made the list of carcinogenic foods to avoid.
- Fish which come from the fish-farm are treated with antibiotics and pesticides.
- Large amounts of such pesticides and antibiotics can build up of a substance called PCB classified as ‘group 1’ carcinogen.
- If such fish is consumed in large amounts or regularly then it raises the risk of cancer.
9. Processed Meat
Processed food is always scrutinized for the conditions in which they are made.
- World Health Organization found out in a study that processed meat contains chemicals and preservatives which can causes health problems one them being, cancer.
- For this reason, processed meat is included in the list of carcinogenic foods to avoid.
10. Hydrogenated Oil
Hydrogenated oil is frowned upon because of the claims that it promotes bad fat in the body.
- Further investigations show that hydrogenated oil contains preservatives and fatty acids which react with the hydrogen molecules.
- The chemicals used to preserve hydrogenated oil make it a carcinogenic food to avoid.
Take Away – Carcinogenic Foods To Avoid
Cancer is a cause of great concern and should be treated as such. You may never know how or when it can affect you or someone you know. So, it is always better to be prepared for it and stay safe. Staying healthy is the best solution to most of the problems in life.