Most people who are conscious about their health and want to lead long lives do worry about the prospect of cancer and how to avoid it. And they are certainly right to worry: cancer remains in the top ten causes of death in the United States and last year, in this country alone, some 1.5 million new cases of this disease were diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. There are many ways to reduce your risk of getting cancer: avoiding tobacco, drinking only moderately, protecting yourself from the sun and eating a healthy diet that avoids the following foods, all of which have been linked to cancer development.
Any food that has been charred – even dark or slightly burned toast – contains chemicals called heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAA’s) because of the charring process. These chemicals are known carcinogens.
Well-Done Red Meat
Well-done red meat can also create the HAA’s mentioned above. Medium-done or rare meat is much better for this, but cutting down or eliminating it is even better. Many studies have shown a link between consumption of red meat and colon cancer.
A diet high in sugar – whether white or brown – has also been linked to the development of some forms of cancer as it feeds inflammation in the body. Natural sweeteners like honey are much healthier.
Salted, Smoked or Pickled Foods
Salting, smoking or pickling foods are all well-known ways of preserving food and were especially popular before modern refrigeration. However, overconsumption of them has been linked to stomach cancer.
Many sodas contain – especially those labelled “diet” or “lite” contain sweeteners like aspartame, a chemical which has been linked to neurological disorders and the development of cancerous brain tumors.
Trans Fat Foods
Potato chips, French fries, and other snacks which contain trans fats will not only increase the risk of heart attack, they are also linked to the development of some forms of cancer. Some states like New York have already passed legislation to ban them from fast foods.
Many processed foods contain additive like artificial dyes which have been linked to cancer development. Whole foods cooking at home is a safe way to avoid many of these unhealthy additions to your food.
While light to moderate consumption of alcohol is actually good for you (especially for the heart), over-consumption or abuse is a primary cause for cirrhosis and cancer of the liver.
In the baking process, many baked goods like cookies, pies and the like form a chemical called acrylamide, which is also a known carcinogen.
While fish in general is good for you, farmed fish can actually be quite toxic since they have higher levels of pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) which have also been linked to cancer development.
Many of these foods are commonly eaten in most American households. However, cutting back on their consumption or avoiding them altogether is much better for your health, as soon many of them are linked to the increased risk of various forms of cancer. Again,to avoid this problem altogether is to make most of your own food at home so that you use a whole foods approach and know exactly what is going into your food.