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Carcinogenic Foods: A List

Our lifestyle can increase or decrease the risk of developing cancer. Taking care of yourself is, therefore, the first step to avoiding the proliferation of serious diseases: this demonstrates the fact that there is a powerful link between what we eat and our body. In this regard, it might be helpful to delve deeper into the topic with a list of carcinogenic foods and, on the contrary, anti-cancer foods. Let’s discover them together.

Carcinogenic Foods To Avoid

What is commonly called junk food can create bad eating habits which, in the future, will have to be corrected to avoid the onset of various metabolic diseases, including:

  1. obesity ;
  2. diabetes ;
  3. cardiocirculatory disorders;
  4. cancer;

Precisely in this regard, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, bad eating habits are the cause of three out of ten cancers. An unhealthy diet can promote a state of permanent inflammation, which can increase the risk of cancer – as often happens in obese individuals. It is, therefore, essential to know which foods are potentially carcinogenic and which ones can protect the body. Let’s see them below.

Hydrogenated Fats

Hydrogenated fats are a dangerous ingredient found:

  1. in industrial baked products, such as snacks and biscuits;
  2. in margarine.

Better to check the label of each food before purchasing and avoid them if they contain the following words :

  1. Palm or palm heart oil.
  2. Unspecified vegetable oils.
  3. Non-hydrogenated vegetable oils or margarine.

Even if the packaging bears the words “free of hydrogenated fats”, it is possible that other oils of this type were still used. The possible consequences of using hydrogenated fats are:

  1. diabetes;
  2. cancer;
  3. high cholesterol ;
  4. dyslipidemias ;

Meat (Mainly Processed Red Meat)

Red meat is now seen by many as an enemy of health and a possible risk factor for the appearance of various types of cancer (such as colon cancer ).  It is, therefore, better to limit consumption to 300 grams per week. This is for three main reasons :

  1. cooking at high temperatures – on grills or in vegetable oils – produces carcinogenic substances and compounds;
  2. The intestine is too long to digest meat properly, and its excessive stay inside can create toxic substances ;
  3. Intensive farming constitutes an unnatural diet for animals due to the pesticides, antibiotics and hormones that are used en masse.

Canned Foods

Canned foods are not suitable for your health, as they contain :

  1. preservatives;
  2. Salt.

It is better to prefer fresh and seasonal foods.

Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks are, in fact, rich in :

  1. sugar;
  2. sweeteners;
  3. dyes ;
  4. additives that are harmful to health.

Furthermore, these drinks are too acidic and have an excessive amount of carbon dioxide inside them.

French Fries

French fries are often  frozen products, pre-cooked and rich in artificial flavours and additives such as: 

  1. coloring substances;
  2. antioxidants.

There are three reasons why this food can be bad for your health:

  1. Cooking chips at high temperatures allows the activation of a carcinogenic substance contained in them, salicylamide (which favors the development of cancer);
  2. The use of carcinogenic frying oils (such as palm oil).
  3. Fast cooking destroys all the vitamins and enzymes contained in the product and alters their molecular level.


Sugar is a chemical substance, and there is nothing natural about it; its consumption  causes numerous damages because:

  1. It provides calories devoid of any valuable nutrients ;
  2. requires ample enzyme resources to be metabolized ;
  3. consumes vitamin C, such as smoking and alcohol;
  4. damages the liver ;
  5. causes intestinal dysbiosis;
  6. acidifies the body;
  7. causes diabetes ;
  8. Causes cardiovascular problems.

Alcoholic Beverages

Frequent alcohol consumption, in addition to increasing the risk of liver cirrhosis and cardiovascular problems, can negatively influence the onset of oncological diseases. Ethanol increases the risk of :

  1. mouth cancer ;
  2. pharynx cancer;
  3. laryngeal cancer;
  4. Esophageal cancer.

The recommended limit is two glasses of wine daily for men and one for women.

How The List Of Carcinogenic Substances Was Created

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has established a detailed, scientifically based list of foods that can cause cancer. The substances are divided into five categories : 

  1. Group 1, which includes certain human carcinogens;
  2. Group 2A, which provides for probable carcinogenic substances for humans and certain carcinogenic substances for animals;
  3. Group 2B, which contains possible carcinogenic foods for humans and animals;
  4. Group 3, which includes substances that cannot be classified as carcinogenic due to lack of scientific evidence;
  5. Group 4, when tests in humans and other animals indicate no carcinogenic activity.

The IARC lists, compiled since 1971, include only agents investigated because of suspicion.

Non-Carcinogenic And Anti-Cancer Foods

Most anti-cancer and non-carcinogenic foods can be found in the Mediterranean diet. Consequently, at the table, the following cannot be missing :

  1. five portions of fruit and vegetables, essential to guarantee the necessary intake of fiber and vitamins; 
  2. Whole grains and legumes, which help protect the colorectal and intestine from the risk of cancer;
  3. Coffee, which appears to protect against prostate cancer due to caffeine and polyphenols;
  4. Carrots,  tomatoes, sweet and  hot  peppers,  squash,  watermelon  and  apricots which contain alpha-carotene and lycopene that protect the lungs ;
  5. Milk, as well as garlic, which appears to protect against colorectal tumors;
  6. Soy, which protects the body from female tumors due to the flavonoids it contains;
  7. fish, a valid alternative to meat to guarantee the body the correct protein intake;
  8. algae ;
  9. linseed ;
  10. spices and aromatic herbs ;

As for soy, its consumption in women with a history of breast cancer has always been controversial due to fears that it would favor a certain recidivism. The latest studies, contrary to what has just been stated, have refuted this belief and, indeed, note that phytoestrogens protect against possible relapses. Finally, it is good to remember that cooking also plays a fundamental role: in fact, it is advisable to prefer steaming, baking or boiling to prepare healthy and safe dishes.

Read Also: Carbohydrate-Free Foods: What Are They?


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