The scary truth about cancer today is anyone and everyone is at risk — not just your elderly neighbors but even a young, healthy teenager. True, the occurrence of cancer increases as individuals age; men have a 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer, while a woman’s odds are slightly better at 1 in 3. Lifetime risk is the chance an individual will become sick and die from the illness.
Because we can’t target a cause for the illness, the term ‘everything causes cancer’ has become a popular exaggeration in recent years. But the fact is scientists can pinpoint certain foods that have been shown to increase one’s risk of cancer if consumed in large amounts.
Remember: there’s a difference between ‘junkfood’ and unhealthy, potentially cancer-causing foods. Here are five items to avoid next time you’re at the grocery store.
I’m talking bacon, hot dogs, sandwich meat, packaged ham, pepperoni, salami, and all red meat contained in frozen meals. Meat that is preserved by any process including smoking, curing, salting, or chemical preservatives are said to increase one’s risk of colon, pancreatic, and other types of cancer. The big one to blame here is the chemical preservatives like sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite which are used when packaging meats to turn them that fresh, bright red color. The worst meat product you can eat? Hot dogs. They’re made from meat scraps donated from animals that were injected with hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and fecal matter. Yuck. To lower your processed meat intake, whenever possible buy organic free-range grass-fed meat whenever possible.
We already knew diet soda had potentially harmful health affects, but did you know regular soda is filled with cancer-causing ingredients? On top of high levels of sugar putting consumers at risk for tooth decay, and 4-methylimidazole (4-MI), a byproduct of chemical processing that creates the artificial dye in dark-colored soda has been linked to causing cancer. Even worse than regular soda is diet soda and beverages in general. The common artificial sweetener in these beverages, aspartame, has been said to cause not only cancer but birth defects.
This may seem like a convenient snack, but bags of microwave popcorn are lined with chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in the lining of these bags and declared it as “likely” carcinogenic. Not only that but there is a diacetyl chemical used in the actual popcorn that scientists say could cause lung disease or cancer.
- Whenever possible, always buy wild caught fish over farm-raised. Yes, wild caught is more expensive, but with farm-raised you’re subjecting yourself to fish “contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), flame retardants, pesticides, and antibiotics.” Also, farm-raised salmon specifically lacks any Vitamin D, one of the main health benefits we normally get from fish.
Apples, Grapes, and other ‘Dirty’ Groceries
- This is the most deceiving item on this list. Sadly, most fruits like apples, grapes, and strawberries in regular grocery stores are covered in pesticides. The Environmental Working Group has found that 98% of produce (especially those found on it’s ‘dirty’ fruits list) is contaminated with chemicals. To avoid these dirty fruits, buy organic and those products labeled ‘pesticide-free.’
Did you know about any of these foods potentially causing cancer? Remember to read labels when food shopping too!
Dr. Mike Malone and his team practice expert cosmetic dentistry in Lafayette, LA. Dr. Malone is the former president and current accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is also the official Cosmetic Dentist of the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageants. Check out his website for more information.