What Foods Contain Carcinogens?

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Some of the foods that you consume daily basis could end up giving you cancer. Do you know which ones they are?

Read this article to find out! Know the foods to banish from your diet! But, first, let’s start with a carcinogen definition.

What are Carcinogens?

Carcinogens refer to a substance that can alter cells so they become cancerous, which means that they can destroy and invade nearby tissue and may spread to other parts of the body. Substances that are known carcinogens include chemicals found in cigarette smoke, air pollution, and some pesticides.

Top 6 Most Carcinogenic Foods:

1. Alcoholic beverages

  • Research has reported that the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk for developing certain kinds of cancer, including neck and head, liver, esophageal, colorectal and breast cancers.
  • When your body metabolizes alcohol, it produces acetaldehyde, a chemical compound that may damage DNA, and this may lead to cancer.
  • Although experts recommend abstaining from alcohol to avoid the risk, Crystal Langlois, RD, LD, Director of Nutrition at our hospital near Atlanta, said that if you choose to indulge, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than 1 serving per day if you are a woman, or no more than 2 servings per day if you are a man. A serving is defined as 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine or 1.5 oz. of liquor.

2. Meats Cooked or Charred at High Temperatures

Meats cooked at high temperatures form chemicals, and this may cause changes in your DNA, which may lead to cancer.

Consuming large amount of fried, well-done, or barbecued meats has been associated with an increased risk of pancreatic, colorectal, and prostate cancer.

When preparing meat, Langlois recommends baking, braising, or boiling it. Also, marinating meats before cooking may help to reduce the risk of carcinogens forming.

3. Processed meat

Processed meat is any meat that has been cured, smoked, salted, or contains chemical preservatives. Processed meats include bacon, salami, hot dogs, sausage, jerky, ham, pastrami, and other deli and lunch meats.

Researchers have found out that consuming an average of 50 grams or about 1.8 ounces of processed meat per day increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Both the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recommend eliminating these foods completely from your diet.

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The link between cancer and processed meats may be due to the nitrites, nitrates, and/or sodium they contain. These ingredients contribute to the formation of nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens.

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4. Red Meat

Diets that are high in red meat (lamb, beef, pork, and goat) are associated with increased risks of pancreatic, colorectal, and prostate cancers, especially if the meat is cooked at very high temperatures and/or is charred, which most commonly occurs when you are grilling.

The AICR recommends limiting your intake of red meat to less than 18 ounces of cooked meat per week. If you do eat red meat, choose the leaner cuts, such as pork loin and beef, to reduce your intake of saturated fat. Replace red meat with turkey, chicken, legumes and fish for adequate protein and variety.

5. Soda

You are probably aware that soda can make you gain weight. But, did you know that soda might also cause cancer?

This is according to Swedish researchers whose 2012 study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that men who drink 1 can of soda daily are 40% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. This risk is highest for men whose age ranges over the age of 45.

6. Very Hot Beverages (Hotter than 149° F)

In the US, drinks such as tea, coffee, and hot chocolate are typically prepared at lower temperatures, so they are generally not a concern.

Remember that it is extremely unlikely that consuming certain foods occasionally will cause you to develop cancer. Your overall dietary pattern, along with other factors, such as whether you exercise regularly, whether you smoke, if you are obese, and if you live in an urban area, all play a part in determining your cancer risk.

Therefore, it is better to limit carcinogenic foods and increase your intake of vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods, but, view your dietary choices as just one part of an overall lifestyle that will reduce your risk of cancer along with other chronic diseases.

Related Articles:

  1. What are the Top 10 Cancer Causing Foods?
  2. 5 Foods That Increase Your Breast Cancer Risk (and 5 Foods That Reduce It)
  3. These Two Foods are The New Cancer Killer

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