Cancer is the second-leading cause of death globally and is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. There are many types of cancer, but according to the cancer research agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), here are the most common types of cancer:
- Lung (2.09 million cases)
- Breast (2.09 million cases)
- Colorectal (1.80 million cases)
- Prostate (1.28 million cases)
- Skin cancer (non-melanoma) (1.04 million cases)
- Stomach (1.03 million cases)
There are also a number of risk factors that lead to cancer or even worse, cancer deaths. But based on the data gathered by WHO, one-third of the deaths from cancer are due to the five leading behavioral and dietary risks—low fruit and vegetable intake, high body mass index, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
Notice that 3 out of 5 of those risks are dietary. That’s why it’s very crucial to pay attention to what you eat and drink on a daily basis. Lower your risk of acquiring cancer by taking note of all these cancer-causing foods and drinks.
Scorching hot drinks
If you’re someone who loves coffee or tea, and at a scorching hot temperature at that, then you might be putting yourself at risk for esophageal cancer. According to the International Journal of Cancer, one study found that tea drinkers who preferred to have their drink at 140°F (60°C) were 90% more likely to develop cancer. But if you let your drink cool for a bit, then you’re good to go.
Just because they’re called vegetable oils doesn’t guarantee that they’re safe and healthy. In fact, they might not be the healthiest option you have. In a research in 2015, it was found that heating vegetable oils release aldehydes—a chemical that’s linked to many cancers. To be on the healthier and safer side of cooking, switch to other oils such as coconut and olive oil.
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned seven artificial flavors after a study made by the US Department of Health showed that these additional flavors could cause cancer. As these flavors have already been banned, you don’t have to worry about them much, but still keep watch of your artificial flavor intake. Artificial flavors are often found in carbonated drinks, candy, ice cream, and pastries.
After a 2015 study in Clinical Nutrition, people started to speculate if eggs really increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Fortunately, it doesn’t. Even though eating eggs might increase your cholesterol levels, it still doesn’t pose a direct risk to cancer. As long as you eat within the average number of eggs allowed per day, then you can still enjoy your eggs in however way you want to.
A research in 2015 found that eating at least 50 grams of processed meat per day increases the chances of colorectal cancer by 18%. So the World Health Organization cautioned everyone from eating processed meats, may it be salted, cured, fermented, or smoked. Moreover, processed red meat poses a higher risk than other meats plus 3% of all cancers are linked to red meat.
With this information, however, WHO doesn’t require people to give up eating processed meat altogether, but rather just lessen its intake.
Sugar is part of a healthy human’s diet, but too much sugar is bad for your health. Actually, there is no direct correlation between sugar intake and cancer but there is a connection. So, indulging in too much dessert, sweets, and sugar may lead to obesity and obesity is directly correlated to cancer as it was reported by the Cancer Council Australia that at least 3% of cancers stem from obesity. Try to control how much sugar intake you have and fight against your sweet tooth cravings.
In 2012, a review of over 70 studies found a strong relationship between eating pickled foods and stomach cancer. And according to the British Journal of Cancer, at least 34 studies show a connection between eating pickled foods and esophageal cancer. Why? Aren’t pickled foods supposed to be healthy? Well, it’s true it can be healthy but the high salt and acid content in pickles make it a health risk. People who have large intakes of pickles are more prone to be exposed to stomach and esophageal cancer. Just like in Asian countries like Japan and South Korea where pickling is one of the most popular ways to prepare and store their food.
For people who prefer drinking juice over soda because you believe it’s healthier, I’m here to tell you otherwise. Juice is almost just the same as soda. In a study made by The BMJ in 2019, it was reported that even 100% real fruit juice is “significantly associated with the risk of overall cancer.” Dr. Touvier who led the research, recommends people to only consume less than one cup of juice a day.
Bisphenol A (BPA) in canned foods is not good for the health, and studies have shown that canned foods containing BPA increases the risk of certain cancers, especially breast cancer. Despite the FDA and health advocates’ continuous fight to ban BPA-containing canned foods, research from the Center for Environmental Health in 2017 revealed that 40% of canned foods still contain BPA. This chemical is very harmful, in fact, the chief executive of Breast Cancer UK even stated, “We believe there is no safe dose of BPA.”
Over the years, there have been a number of studies and research that prove soda poses numerous health risks, including cancer. And just recently, in July 2019 French researchers found that drinking at least four ounces of soda a day raises one’s risk of cancer by 18%. An average can of soda contains at least 12 ounces, so if you drink up a whole can, that’s already 3x the risk!
Margarine has been notorious for having high trans-fat content, but a Hong Kong study in 2018 found that there were even deadlier ingredients in margarine—3-MCPD and glycidol. Both are forms of vegetable oils in high temperatures that may affect your liver. The European Food Safety Authority said that for margarine to have a cancer-risk, a person must eat 24 spoonfuls. So, remember, take your margarine in moderation.
In 2016, a group of researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas compared lung cancer patients to those without lung cancer. While they examined what their diet was, it was found out that the individuals consumed great amounts of high-glycemic foods that are starchy and sugary, just like bagels. Later on, the researchers concluded that those who frequently have intakes of high-glycemic foods were 49% more likely to develop lunch cancer. However, smoking is still far more dangerous and has more potential to give you lung cancer.
Who doesn’t love a warm and crispy toast in the morning? Well, if you’re a big fan of toast, we’ve got some bad news for you. According to the Food Standards Agency, toasting bread might pose a serious health risk. Why? Because toasting your bread for too long produces the same chemical as frying potatoes—acrylamide. However, a professor at Cambridge University debated that for toast to have a serious health risk, one would have to eat 160 times more bread than the mice.
Grilled meat doesn’t necessarily pose a cancer risk, but charred meat does. According to the National Capital Poison Center, research has found that when fat drips onto charcoals when grilling, it produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). And these PAHs can alter a person’s DNA and have been connected to bladder, lung, and skin cancer. Avoid the cancer risk by grilling less often and making sure that you remove the charred parts of the meat first before eating.
This might come as a little bit surprising, but yes, milk does have negative effects too. Consuming large intakes of dairy products have been linked to several types of cancer because of milk’s hormone and fat content. A review of numerous studies made by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that a high amount of dairy is connected to prostate cancer.
Everyone was abuzz when news broke that popcorn might be a cancer-causing food. But research in 2013 found that the actual popcorn doesn’t pose any cancer risk, it’s the lining inside the microwavable bag that does. Why? Because microwaveable popcorn plastic bags contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that can cause testicular, liver, and pancreatic cancer.
So is this the end of popcorn and movie nights? Absolutely not, you can still enjoy eating your popcorn as long as you cook homemade ones instead of microwavable ones.
Ever since more people became more health-conscious, hidden health risks of white bread have also been revealed. Aside from containing acrylamide, white bread carries sugars and starches that are not good for the body. In a study in Annals of Oncology in 2013, it was noted that eating white bread poses a higher risk of colorectal cancer than pasta. Moreover, according to a 2006 research in the International Journal of Cancer, consuming more than 5 slices of white bread a day doubles a person’s chances of getting kidney cancer.
Just like popcorn, it’s not the peanuts that pose a risk of cancer, but its packaging. According to the National Cancer Institute, some peanut molds grow aflatoxins which are associated with a heightened risk of having liver cancer. However, if you consume peanuts without aflatoxins, according to a 30-year-old research, eating a handful of peanuts every day may lower your risks of getting cancer.
In the early 2000s, researchers found a chemical compound in french fries called acrylamide which promoted cancer in animals. Almost a decade after, it was backed up by a 2019 study published in the Genome Research that revealed 30% of the tumors are linked back to acrylamide. However, before you start mourning your favorite french fries, there’s a group of students in Harvard who debates against the cancer risks of acrylamide found on french fries. They said that in their recent studies and findings, they didn’t find the link between acrylamide and cancer.
It’s common knowledge that too much salt in our food intake is not good for the health. After a tedious review of almost 100 studies, the World Journal of Gastroenterology reported that high-salt diets increase the chances of stomach cancer. To lower your salt intake, try looking for no salt or low-salt food options when buying.
Oh no, not coffee.
Over many years of studying and research, the relationship between coffee and cancer still remains undetermined. Some studies and scientists claim that they have found acrylamide in coffee after the roasting process, but other big cancer research associations and individuals do not back up coffee’s negative effects. In fact, in 2016, after reviewing over 1,000 studies on coffee, the World Health Organization found that drinking coffee reduced the risks of prostate, endometrial, and liver cancers.