We all know it can be a struggle to eat healthy all the time. Maybe it’s that frozen dinner after a long day at work, when you really can’t summon the energy to actually prepare something from scratch. Or that sweet treat that gives you a needed boost in the late afternoon?
Sometimes it’s tempting to say, “Well, everything causes cancer, so why bother to worry about it?” However, some common food items have been scientifically shown to significantly increase the risk of cancer. Here are 7 REALLY BAD foods that you should avoid at all costs.
1. Processed Meats
A study conducted at the University of Hawaii found that people who consumed the most processed meats (hot dogs and sausage) showed a 67 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer over those who consumed few or no meat products. Breakfast sausage, hot dogs, jerkies, bacon, lunch meat; nearly all of these meat products are made using sodium nitrite, which is used to give cured meat its pinkish color and increase its shelf life. However, this ingredient is a precursor to highly carcinogenic nitrosamines — potent cancer-causing chemicals that accelerate the formation and growth of cancer cells throughout the body. So if you are going to eat meat products, be sure to choose only uncured meat products made without nitrates, and preferably from grass-fed sources.
2. Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs)
Numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7 percent to 13 percent in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems and others are on the rise. And the cancer connection? Eating GM corn and consuming trace levels of Monsanto’s Roundup chemical fertilizer caused rats to develop horrifying tumors. (Editor’s note: Care2 does not endorse animal testing and believes there are viable alternatives to medical research that do not involve the testing or killing of animals.) In addition, many medical groups condemn the use of GM bovine growth hormone, because the milk from treated cows has more of the hormone IGF-1, which is linked to cancer. You can avoid GMOs by sticking with certified organic, certified non-GMO verified and locally-grown foods that are produced naturally without biotechnology.
3) Microwave Popcorn
However convenient they are, those bags of microwave popcorn are also lined with chemicals that are linked to causing liver, testicular and pancreatic cancers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in microwave popcorn bag linings as “likely” carcinogenic, and several independent studies have linked the chemical to causing tumors. (PFOA is also used to make Teflon and other stain-and stick-resistant materials including pizza boxes.) The other safety issue concerns the diacetyl chemical used in the popcorn itself for the artificial butter flavor, which is also linked to causing both lung damage and cancer. If you’re a popcorn fan, why not stick to the old-fashioned kernel popping machine?
4) Farmed Salmon
This is another high-risk cancer food, according to Dr. David Carpenter, Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany. He explains that farmed salmon is often contaminated with flame retardants, pesticides and antibiotics, as well as carcinogenic chemicals known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), banned toxins found in materials like asbestos. Corroborating this finding, a CTV News Investigation compared wild and farmed salmon and found that farmed salmon are fattier than wild salmon, which means they may have more omega-3s, but it also means they can accumulate higher levels of toxins such as PCBs. ¯If you’re a salmon lover, why not follow the suggestion from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, and consume only wild Alaska salmon?
5) Hydrogenated Oils
These are commonly used to preserve processed foods and keep them shelf-stable. But hydrogenated oils alter the structure and flexibility of cell membranes throughout the body, which can lead to a host of debilitating diseases. It turns out that the World Health Organization tried to outlaw this ingredient decades ago, and for good reason: hydrogenated oils cause cancer, birth defects, heart disease, diabetes and many other fatal diseases. If you must buy processed foods, be sure to check the ingredients label and look for healthy oils such as olive oil, soy or canola oil instead of hydrogenated oils.
6) Canned Tomatoes
Actually, it’s not just tomatoes: the lining of most canned foods contains bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical that acts as an estrogen and disrupts hormonal activity in the body. A study published in May of 2013 by the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences showed that BPA actually affects the way genes work inside the brain of rats. Tomatoes are exceptionally dangerous due to their high acidity, which seems to cause BPA to leech from the lining of the can into the tomatoes themselves. Studies show that BPA may be linked to various forms of cancer, heart disease, intestinal damage and several reproductive issues. Why not cook fresh or buy glass containers?
You already know about soda, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat it: soda is packed full of calories, sugar and artificial ingredients, and has no nutritional benefit. One can of soda contains the equivalent of ten packets of sugar. According to studies, most popular diet and sugared sodas are nearly as corrosive to dental enamel as battery acid, leading to an increase in tooth sensitivity and cavities despite good dental hygiene. Even worse, a study from the University of Minnesota found that people who drank as little as two soft drinks a week faced almost double the risk of pancreatic cancer. As you know, there are plenty of natural alternatives to soda.
According to Joel Fuhrman, author of “Eat To Live,” vegetables and fruits (non GMO) protect against all types of cancers when consumed in large enough quantities. This is documented by hundreds of scientific studies.
What other foods do you recommend avoiding at all costs?
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