You already know that certain foods are bad for your health and waistline. We’ve heard it everywhere, from our doctors to the latest food trends. Junk food is terrible, in every sense of the word. While junk food may evoke memories of scenes from the film Super Size Me or your mother telling you to lay off the chips and soda, the truth is that it goes far beyond just expanding your waistline and damaging your heart; it can also put you at risk of cancer, according to research. So next time you’re thinking of improving the quality of your diet, you might want to add the risk of cancer to the long list of consequences of eating junk food.
The research for these claims relied on a U.K. nutritional labeling system known as the Nutri-Score logo (which has been in use since 2007) to evaluate the diets of more than 470,000 adults. The study found that even though other factors were accounted for such as exercise and smoking habits, adults whose diets contained foods with the poorest scores had the highest risk of stomach, colorectal, respiratory tract, lung and liver cancers, along with postmenopausal breast cancer in women. Experts mention that the problem lies in a consistently poor diet. Here are ten foods you should consider avoiding in your diet to lower your risk of cancer.
For those of you who are big fans of firing up the grill, beware. “High intake of meat, particularly well-cooked meat, has been associated with increased risk of cancers,” says Mia Gaudet, Ph.D., scientific director of epidemiology research for the American Cancer Society (ACS). The problem occurs when the meat is cooking on the grill, which leads to the production of carcinogenic compounds known as PAHs.
“Studies have found higher rates of cancer among Asian populations that consume a lot of fermented kimchi and smoked fish,” says Robert Segal, MD, founder of Medical Offices of Manhattan. Preliminary research suggests that high salt content might be linked to stomach cancer.Related: 6 Warning Signs of Stomach Cancer that have Nothing to do with Pain
The process in which meats like sausage, bacon, ham, and salami are preserved can lead to the development of nitrites, compounds that have been found that increase the risk of colon and other cancers, mentions Gaudet. ACS guidelines suggest limiting the consumption of processed meats in your diet.
When it comes to booze, it really comes down to quantity over quality. “There are strong links to increased risk of cancer with moderate to high alcohol intake,” says Gaudet. This is the reason why experts suggest drinking no more than one serving of alcohol, which is the equivalent of a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce serving of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor per day for women; men can double those servings due to their higher body weight.Related: 11 Liver Damage Signs You Can’t Ignore
6. Trans Fats
While trans fat was banned by the FDA in 2015, there are still trace amounts of naturally occurring trans fats in meat and dairy products. The ban can help prevent thousands of cardiac-related deaths a year. Since its ban, manufacturers have used the man-made version of these fats, known as partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are used to make foods last longer on the shelves of your favorite grocery stores. A study found that breast cancer patients whose diets included trans fats have a 78 percent higher risk of dying within seven years of their diagnosis.
5. Red Meat
Although juicy, tasty and a crowd favorite, red meats can put you at a higher risk of cancer. Eating more than 18 ounces total of meats such as beef, pork, or even lamb can increase your chances of developing colorectal cancers, per the American Institute for Cancer Research. This is why most official guidelines suggest getting your daily protein from plant-based sources.
Even though researchers are still investigating the link between sugar and cancer, there is one thing that is known to be true: sugar leads to weight gain, and weight gain raises your cancer risk. The more body fat you have, the higher your levels of circulating estrogen are, and that worsens your odds of developing breast and reproductive cancers, mentions Dr. Segal.Related: How Diet Soda Damages Your Body
3. Microwave Popcorn
Commonly, microwaveable popcorn bags are lined with nonstick coatings that contain PFOA, a chemical that has been shown in animal studies to increase the risk of liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancers. Although popping your own popcorn might take a little longer, it is definitely worth it in the long run.
2. Canned Tomatoes and Sauces
Tomatoes and tomato pastes are commonly sold in cans. So what’s the problem? Unfortunately, manufacturers of these cans use certain kinds of plastics that contain bisphenol A (BPA), which was recently found to interfere with the body’s natural production of sex hormones, thus upping the risk of developing breast and prostate cancers. Due to their high acidity, tomatoes tend to leach the chemical from the lining of the cans.
1. Hot Beverages
The debate over the health benefits of coffee and tea has been going on for ages. But recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed coffee from its list of potential carcinogens. However, there is still evidence that suggests that serving beverages at 149°F or higher can increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Researchers believe that high temperatures damage tissues, leaving them vulnerable to cancerous lesions.Related: 20 Things Science Has Linked to Cancer