The shortest possible explanation of this broad term is that ‘cancer’ refers to a group of diseases that involve out-of-control growth of cells in a weak part of the body.
This development wouldn’t be so bad if this abnormal cell growth did not have the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Medical research has identified over 200 different types of cancer so far.
We all know that malign diseases cause a huge number of deaths across the globe every year. Indeed, millions of people each year are diagnosed with different types of cancer: skin, breast, oral, colon, ovarian, lung, bladder, and other types of cancers.
Possible signs and symptoms of cancer include: abnormal bleeding, a lump in the body, unexplained weight loss, sudden change in bowel movements, frequent fevers or infections, feeling fatigued, loss of appetite, shortness of breath or coughing.
While these symptoms may point to a possible cancerous development in the body, they can also emerge in relation to other health issues. However, one can certainly take measures to reduce their risk of developing life-threatening cancer such as: no smoking, moderate drinking, keeping healthy body weight, reducing stress, getting proper sleep hours, and leading a proactive lifestyle.
Of all contributing factors, eating healthy is probably the most important one, so one must simply eliminate cancer-causing foods from their diet. The most common culprit is processed foods since it contains most carcinogens.
We know that your personal health is your private thing. But let us help you stay in good health with this list of top 10 cancer-causing foods that you should cross out on your menu:
1. Processed or red meat
In order for processed meats [ham, sausages, smoked bacon…] to stay fresh as long as possible, producers “freeze” them with chemicals such as sodium nitrates, which eventually make them bad for your health. In addition, processed meats contain excessive amount of salt, which is also bad.
A 2008 study, published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, implies that eating processed meat might be involved in the etiology of colorectal cancer. Along with processed meat, you must avoid excessive intake of red meat that can lead to multiple risks of colon and prostate cancer. If you want to avoid the harmful effects of processed meat, substitute it with lean meat, and cook your own food whenever you can.
2. Canned tomatoes
Canned foods may seem harmless since they allow you to enjoy the taste of your favorite vegetables throughout the year. However, living health-wise means avoiding canned food, especially canned tomatoes.
The cans used to preserve tomatoes [and other fresh foods] are lined with a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), which is an endocrine disruptor that may mimic and disrupt hormonal balance. Thus they increase the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, early puberty, metabolic disorders, infertility, and similar hormone-related medical conditions.
Again, when it comes to canned foods, canned tomatoes pose a greater risk to your health due to their higher acidity, because the BPA from the can lining ‘leaks’ into the tomatoes easily. So, in place of canned tomatoes, it is better to use fresh organic tomatoes as much as possible. It is also possible to buy diced or whole tomatoes ‘packed’ in glass bottles.
3. Farmed salmon
Most of us believe in the health benefits of eating salmon, and enjoy this (farmed) fish a couple of times per week. But, many salmon-lovers do not pay attention to the origin of their fish – is it farmed or wild salmon? ‘Farmed’ salmon is nowhere near as healthy as wild salmon, so eating farmed salmon puts you at a higher risk of developing cancer.
A 2004 study, published in Science Magazine, revealed that farmed salmon has significantly higher levels of cancer-causing and other health-related contaminants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and toxaphene, compared to wild salmon.
The study drew a conclusion that eating more than 1 piece of farmed-salmon meal a month could pose considerable cancer risk. Farmed salmon also contains higher levels of mercury and flame retardants.
The majority of the salmon prepared in restaurants, or sold in grocery stores, is farmed rather than wild, so you better avoid ordering salmon when dining out. Caution is also advised when buying salmon – make sure it is labeled ‘wild.’ The farmed salmon may be little cheaper than the wild one, but the wild is worth your health!
4. Hydrogenated oil
Unlike olive, soy or canola oil, hydrogenated oil is not extracted in a natural way, and hence is not good for human health. Once it is chemically extracted from vegetables, hydrogenated oil is again chemically treated to change its smell and taste, as well as to extend its shelf life. This type of oil is usually used to preserve processed foods.
Although an amount of omega–6 fatty acids is good for your health, the excess of it found in hydrogenated oils influences the structure and flexibility of cell membranes. This in turn increases cancer risk, especially the risk of skin cancer. In addition, the trans fats in hydrogenated oils “promote” breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.
The best thing is to use natural oils for cooking, not the hydrogenated oil. Among the best are: extra-virgin olive oil, extra-virgin coconut oil and palm oil.
5. Potato chips
All people like to “chip in” some potato chips for extra energy. But, to make potato chips so crispy, they are deep-fried in temperatures higher than 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit). This causes them to synthesize a material called acrylamide, a well-known carcinogen found in cigarettes too.
Exactly this “dietary” acrylamide puts you at a higher risk of ovarian, prostate, digestive tract and breast cancer, according to a 2006 study published in the International Journal of Cancer.
Another thing to think about is potato chips’ high fat and calories, which contribute to unhealthy weight gain, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and other health disorders. Plus, they are almost always artificially flavored with added numerous preservatives that are hazardous for your health.
So, instead of buying potato chips from markets, you can fry them at home using healthy oil such as olive oil. You can also opt for baked potato chips or tortilla chips, which contain less fat and calories. Another healthy option is to make your own baked apple or banana chips, rather than to sit as a ‘couch potato’ and devour ‘regular’ potato chips.
6. Genetically modified foods (GMOs)
The array of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) including potatoes, corn, grains and soybeans are extremely harmful to the body immune response. All these ‘food products’ are forcefully grown using harmful chemicals and, when consumed, can lead to immune system failure, brain and liver damage.
In fact, the chemicals used to grow these foods cause rapid tumor growth. You need to look attentively for labels that read ‘GMO-free Food’ as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has no testing procedures for GMO foods! To be on the safe side, buy locally-grown produce and grains as often as possible.
7. Refined and artificial sugars
We won’t be mistaken to remind you that refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and fructose-rich sweeteners [notably high-fructose corn syrup] are not good for your health. These products tend to rapidly spike insulin levels and “feed” the cancer cells that we all have in our bodies.
As per 2006 study, published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition journal, high intake of refined sugar and sugar-sweetened foods increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. So, instead of using refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, you can try natural energy-boosters like honey, jaggery, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, or the herb stevia to add ‘sweetness’ to anything you like.
8. Refined white flour
Another common ingredient in processed foods is refined white flour. Refined white flour contains excess carbohydrates that are not good for anyone’s health and they also increase the risk of cancer. Did you know that during the milling process, white flour is bleached with chlorine gas?
It is a highly toxic gas for the body! In fact, studies have shown that excess carbohydrate intake increases the risk of breast cancer in women. Moreover, the white flour has a high-glycemic rate that rapidly raises blood sugar levels.
This spike in blood sugar promotes cancer-cell growth and spreading (known as metastases). There are healthier options to refined white flour, like whole-wheat, almond, quinoa or barley flour. You can equally use these flours for baking or making your usual breads.
9. Smoked and pickled foods
Smoked and pickled foods are made delicious but, at the same time, they bring unease to the body. In fact, smoked meats that pick up tar from the smoking process hold extreme danger for the body, just like cigarettes do! Plus, most pickled foods contain nitrates that turn into N-nitroso, which increases the risk of tumors. Furthermore, they regularly contain preservatives to extend shelf life, which accumulates in your body over time.
This can cause damage at the cellular level and lead to cancer and other difficult-to-cure diseases. Smoked foods are high in fat and, when cooked at high temperatures, the nitrates are converted to nitrites, which is even more harmful to the body. So, do try to avoid smoked and heavily-pickled foods as much as possible.
10. Microwave popcorn
Having popcorn on a cold winter night is another deli for ‘couch potatoes.’ Just pop the little neat bag in the microwave, and a big bowl of tasty popcorn is ready! Yet, tasty microwave popcorn also puts you at a higher risk of cancer.
It is so because the conventional microwave popcorn bags contain a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is a highly toxic substance.
In fact, several studies have found that people with workplace-related exposure to PFOA are at a higher risk of bladder and kidney cancer. So, this popcorn truly is food for thought…
Finally, according to a reliable study of 2009, published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, PFOA can cause impaired fertility in women. Also, when it comes to bad ingredients, the microwave popcorn has soybean oil (a proven GMO product!) and various preservatives, such as propyl gallate. So, if you love popcorn, and cannot do without it, you better make it in an air-popper to avoid these health-related concerns.
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