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  • Thursday, 18 August 2022


Cancer is a complex disease. There are many different types of cancers, as well as many potential causes. The answers to what causes cancer are exactly no known. Despite this factor there are a variety of factors that can contribute to the development of cancer.

Family history as well as genetic makeup play a role in cancer development. External factors under your  control also contribute. These are mainly your lifestyle habits  and they have a great impact.
Diet as one of the most important lifestyle factors should be considered.Research has shown that some foods are associated with a higher risk of certain types of cancer.

In this article, we will explore specific foods and beverages that may increase your risk of cancer.

Foods that increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, are in most cases associated with certain types of cancer. Some other foods contain harmful carcinogens, have the capacity to cause cancer.

Exposure to carcinogens doesn’t always cause cancer but it depends on your genetics,level and duration of exposure to the carcinogen

1. Processed meats

This refer to any type of meat that has been preserved by smoking, salting, curing, or canning. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is “convincing evidence” that processed meat causes cancer. Classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, processed meat is a major risk factor for colorectal cancer.
Examples of processed meats that have carcinogenic properties include: Hotdogs, ham, sausages, corned beef, beef jerky and canned or lunch meat.

The methods used to make processed meats can create carcinogens. For example, curing meat with nitrite can form carcinogens called N-nitroso compounds. Smoking meat can lead to carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

2. Fried foods

When starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures, a compound called acrylamide is formed. This can happen during frying, baking, roasting, and toasting.

Fried starchy foods are especially high in acrylamide. This includes fried potato products, like french fries(chips) and potato crisps.

Acrylamide damages DNA and induces apoptosis, or cell death.

Consuming a lot of fried food also increases  diabetes and obesity. These conditions promote oxidative stress and inflammation, further increasing your cancer risk.

3.Red meats

Red meat is classified as Group 2A, "probably carcinogenic to humans”. Red meat is associated with development of  colorectal,pancreatic and prostate cancer.
It is recommendef that, to reduce your risk of cancer, you should eat no more than 65-100g of cooked red meat per week. 

4.Salted fish (Chinese style)

Salting is a traditional method of preserving food — especially fish- frequently used in South-East Asia and China. This method of preservation results in the production of carcinogenic by-products.These are responsible in causing cancer in humans. Chinese-style salted fish is a Group 1 carcinogen, like processed meat.

5. Sugary drinks or non-diet soda

Obesity is a major risk factor for several cancers.For this reason,it is important to maintain a healthy weight. This can be achieved through a balanced diet that incorporates all food groups. If consumed regularly, sugary drinks can lead to weight gain, and in excessive amounts, obesity. These drink are empty Calories.

6. Refined carbohydrates and processed foods
Refined carbs and processed foods may indirectly increase your risk for cancer. These foods includes baked foods,white pasta,white rice,sugary cereals and white bread. These foods have high
concentration of either sugar, starch or fat.They may also have high concentration of all of them.This may put you at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity. These two conditions promote inflammation and oxidative stress,may increase your risk for certain types of cancer.

7. Alcohol

Acetaldehyde is a carcinogenic compound that is formed when alcohol consumed is broken down by your liver.Acetaldehyde promotes DNA damage and oxidative stress. It also interferes with your immune function, making it difficult for your body to target precancerous and cancerous cells.
Alcohol consumption in women,increases levels of estrogen in the body. This is linked with a higher risk for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.The possible limited benefits of alcohol consumption are outweighed by the harm it can cause,if you want to avoid the risk abstain.


Dairy foods includes milk,yogurt and cheese. Research findings suggest that
dairy may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

It has found that dairy consumption increases levels of an insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). This is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer. IGF-1 may increase the proliferation, or production, of prostate cancer cells.

9. Overcooked Foods

Overcooked foods especially meat happens when heat is of high temperatures or over an open flame.This  creates carcinogenic PAHs and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Heterocyclic amines are also formed in foods that are cooked at high temperatures and blackened or charred.These substances may increase the risk of cancer by altering the DNA of your cells.This happens when cooking methods like grilling,pan-frying and barbecuing are used.

To reduce risk of carcinogens from high-heat cooking, use healthier cooking methods such as pressure cooking,poaching,baking or roasting at low temperatures and slow cooking in s crock pot or slow cooker.


Including tobacco in this list may surprise you,you may argue that we don't eat tobacco but we smoke it. According to Food and Drug Administration(FDA) Act,tobacco and other drugs are classified as food so long as they are passing through your mouth.It has been found that at least 70 chemicals in tobacco are cancer causing,they do so by damaging your DNA. This does not matter whether you are smoker or breathing in someone else's smoke. Smoking is the most obvious carcinogen and the one that people can make change on it.If you have never smoked,you are a kid or teen the key is never to start. Smokeless tobacco is not safer the effects are the same. Even light smoking is harmful for you.

Removing or reducing carcinogenic foods in your diet help reduce the risk of cancer, help in maintaining a healthy weight and also improve your focus and general well-being.

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