Sometimes it feels like pretty much everything causes cancer these days. And while it's never nice to find out that something you like might be secretly killing you, the fact of the matter is that a lot of the things we eat really are bad for us. There are some foods we just know we shouldn't be eating, but some other cancer-causing foods will totally surprise you - you may have even thought they were healthy! Almost EVERYONE eats #42 and #43!
1. Pancake Syrup
We all get a little lazy when it comes to pancake syrup. It tastes almost as good as real maple syrup, minus the cost and the effort. Some people even like it better than genuine maple syrup. It's not hard to see why when you examine the ingredients. It's clear that the manufacturers wanted to create something cheap and addictive. And it totally worked.
The thing about creating something that looks like maple syrup is that it has to be the right color. For this, 4-Mel caramel coloring is used, and it's extremely dangerous. A known carcinogenic, 4-Mel has been getting some negative attention in California, where brands are required to label it. But if you're not in California, definitely be careful with your syrups. It's a great excuse to go out and splurge on your favorite maple syrup, anyway!
2. Soda Pop
No real surprises here, we all know that our favorite sugary drinks are not exactly health potions. But did you know how much more at risk of cancer you are if you drink soda regularly? First of all, soda, including diet soda, has been proven to increase the likelihood of weight gain and obesity, which can then lead to obesity-related cancers, such as kidney and pancreatic cancer.
Secondly, and potentially most concerning, the artificial flavoring 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI) is a known carcinogen present in many sodas. It is a caramel dye used to give darker sodas their color. Evidence of its cancer-causing properties is so strong that the state of California has it listed as an official carcinogen that must be clearly labelled on products. We think this is a good time to consider giving up that daily soda habit!
3. Farmed Salmon
Who doesn't secretly congratulate themselves when they decide to cook up a nice piece of grilled salmon for dinner? Even bigger congratulations if you serve it up with green vegetables. Wild caught salmon is one of the best things you can eat. It's packed with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, and B vitamins. It's also low in calories and linked to healthy weight loss.
Being wild caught is crucial to receiving all the benefits of eating salmon. Most farmed salmon don't contain even half the goodness, as they're fed unnatural diets containing antibiotics and carcinogenic chemicals. Salmon farms are crowded, which also compromises the health of the fish. Studies have revealed that farmed salmon contains high levels of mercury and cancer-causing dioxins. Make sure you always buy the stuff that is specifically labelled as 'wild caught'.
4. Processed Meats
When you think about it, processed meats really are a huge part of any western diet. Whether it's that side of bacon with your eggs, the pepperoni on your pizza, the pastrami on your deli sandwich, or that hot dog you had to have at the game, it seems like they're almost part of every meal. And why wouldn't they be? They're absolutely delicious! Don't even get us started on salami and prosciutto.
The problem with these meats is that they're usually made with ridiculous amounts of salt, other preservatives, and chemicals. Some processed meats contain high levels of sodium nitrates, which make the meats look good, but do nothing good for your insides. They're known to cause cancer and should be avoided at all costs. Smoked meat in particular should be avoided, as the meat can absorb tar from the process.
5. Frozen Pizza
Is there anything better than coming home on Friday evening after a long week of work and then popping a pizza in the oven? While you wait, you pour yourself a glass of wine or crack open a beer and decide which movie to watch on Netflix. Just knowing you have a whole pizza, as well as the whole weekend ahead of you is one of the best feelings in the world.
We do hate raining on the parade, but if you've got a freezer full of Friday night pizzas, you might want to consider some other options for your end of week meal. With a crust composed of refined white flour and other preservatives, processed meats in the topping, and salt-laden sauces, frozen pizzas are simply a no-go. Order from your local Italian restaurant instead.
6. Potato Chips
We knew potato chips were bad, but we didn't realize exactly how bad. Obviously, given their appearance on this list, they're cancer-causing levels of bad. This tasty snack is one of the leading causes of weight gain and obesity, which, of course, can result in a number of other obesity-related diseases, including cancer. Excessive sodium can also cause dangerous conditions, such as high blood pressure.
Most commercial potato chips contain a large dose of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, which are not great for our bodies. The high temperatures that potato chips are fried in create a chemical called acrylamide, a known carcinogen. This harmful carcinogen is also found in cigarettes, just in case you needed any further convincing. Next time you have a craving for something crunchy, try buying oven baked potato chips instead.
7. Hydrogenated Oils
The deceptive thing about vegetable oils is that people immediately assume they're the healthier option. In actual fact, these oils are hydrogenated and the vegetables involved have had their oils stripped from them chemically. On top of that, the oils are then dyed and deodorized to make them look and smell more palatable. They are also extremely high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are fine in small amounts, but can be deadly if you consume too much.
Excess omega-6 fatty acids in the diet have been linked to heart disease, arthritis, respiratory problems, depression, and cancer, which we think is a pretty compelling reason to stay away! The best way to offset your omega-6 intake is to always balance it with omega-3 fatty acids. And definitely avoid products such as hydrogenated oils, which don't offer any omega-3 benefits.
8. Refined White Flour
We've been hearing all about the evils of flour, but it's very hard for so many people (including us!) to give this one up. Trust us, it's painful to have to admit that those gluten-free messages we've all had to listen to may actually hold some truth. Unfortunately, making you bloated and uncomfortable are some of the nicer side effects of consuming white flour on a regular basis. The rest sound a lot worse.
Let's start with the chlorine gas used to bleach flour. This is obviously terrible for our bodies and can lead to dangerous conditions. White flour also has a high glycemic rate, meaning it increases the volume of sugar in your bloodstream. Tumors love consuming all the sugar, so while it might not technically 'cause' cancer, white flour certainly helps it to grow and spread.
Genetically modified organisms, or as we tend to refer to them, 'GMOs', are becoming a bit of a problem in our diets. These foods have been chemically modified and grown in a way that is completely unnatural, so it's no surprise that issues are beginning to present themselves. There haven't been very many studies conducted about the effects of GMOs, but the ones we do have access to are alarming to say the least.
After feeding rats GMO foods, they presented with damaged immune systems, pre-cancerous cells, and smaller brains and livers after just ten days. We recognize that we're a little different to rats, but the results are no less shocking. The government doesn't require companies to label when their products are GMO, so keep on the lookout for foods that are labelled GMO-free.
10. Refined Sugars
Much like refined white flour, refined sugars are also a no-go if you're trying to avoid cancer. The reason sugar tastes so good is because we were supposed to recognize sweet fruits as safe to eat back in the caveman days. Now that has been taken to extremes in modern times. Eating an apple is great because it's natural sugars mixed with fiber. You also wouldn't binge eat ten apples. Refined sugar, however, is another story.
Found in almost every packaged food, refined sugar is notorious for spikes in insulin that can eventually lead to diabetes. It also promotes the growth of cancer cells, as they seem to feed on sugars, particularly high fructose corn syrup, which is prevalent in cereals, sodas, juices, candy, cookies, and many other sweet things. It's time to start cutting back on the sugar.
11. Artificial Sweeteners
We already know where your thought process is headed after reading about sugar. You're probably exactly like us and thought, "well, I'll just switch to the diet or sugar-fee version of my favorite sweet things." Unfortunately, this is not an option, as the artificial sweeteners present in most 'diet' products are just as harmful or even worse than sugar.
Not only do they actually make people gain weight instead of lose it, but they'll also cause cancer while they're at it. The chemicals in artificial sweeteners break down in the body into a toxin known as DKP. DKP is capable of reproducing further toxins, which can cause cancer, particularly brain tumors. We never liked the taste of Diet Coke anyway, so we're more than happy to move right along and give up these chemical sweeteners.
Alcohol is always a tough one to give up. It's interwoven into society in such a way that you're almost excluded if you don't drink it. Don't drink at college? You'll be branded as no fun. Don't attend after work drinks? You might miss out on some important conversations. Being the only one without a drink in your hand can make you feel alienated from the rest of the group, so it's understandable why it's so hard to stop.
Maybe if people knew that alcohol was the second leading cause of cancer behind tobacco, they'd be more inclined to give it up. Anyone with breasts should be extra careful, as it's the leading cause of breast cancer. But alcohol also causes mouth, esophageal, liver, colon, mouth, and rectal cancer, so we all have to watch out.
13. Red Meat
Nobody is saying you have to give up red meat altogether (well, except for vegetarians), but toning it down a little can certainly improve your chances when it comes to cancer. It's totally fine to sit down and enjoy a nice, juicy steak every couple of weeks, but definitely don't do this every single day. In fact, some completely meat-free days will probably do you the world of good.
Eating red meat every day can increase your chances of contracting cancer by more than 20 percent, which is super high! Colon cancer in particular is something that heavy meat eaters are often diagnosed with. Fish and poultry actually protect against cancer, so include them on your menu more and you'll be reducing your risk of getting it. If you do eat red meat, be sure to buy grass-fed.
No! This is terrible news. Who doesn't love treating themselves to a morning bagel to start the day off right? The bagel is a North American staple that is so prevalent in our diets that there seems to be a bagel place on every corner. In certain cities, secrets of where to find the best bagels are traded more than celebrity gossip.
Unfortunately, due to high volumes of refined white flour and salt, bagels are one of the worst baked goods you can eat on a regular basis. They have a high glycemic index and cause blood sugar levels to soar (that 10:30am bagel come down is not your imagination!). It's a tough reality to face, but usually when something you thought was healthy tastes too good to be true, it's because it actually is.
15. Hot Drinks
There's a reason why our bodies can't generally handle drinking a cup of boiling hot water until it has had a chance to cool down. Drinks hotter than 65 degrees Celsius or 149 degrees Fahrenheit could increase your risk of contracting esophageal cancer in the future. If you have one little accident and take a sip of a too hot drink, you've got nothing to worry about - t's only a danger if you regularly drink very hot beverages.
While most restaurants in North America won't serve scalding hot drinks, it's something to pay attention to if you make your own hot coffee or tea at home. It's also something to consider if you're a regular drinker of the South American tea known as mate, which is traditionally prepared and served at extremely hot temperatures.
16. Charred Meats
All meat lovers know how special a good, charred bit of meat on the barbeque is. Whether it's ribs, wings, sausages, steak, or chops, it simply seems to taste better when it's charred just right. Don't ask us for the scientific explanation, we just know it to be true. Sadly, for all of us, putting down the tongs for good is looking like a sensible idea, as charred meat has been found to contain cancer-causing properties.
Meats cooked at high temperatures, i.e. so hot that they end up charring, form chemicals that are now known to cause changes in DNA. These DNA changes lead to an increased risk of pancreatic, colorectal, and prostate cancer. Next time you're cooking up meat for dinner, try baking, poaching, or stir frying it instead to reduce your cancer risk.
17. Non-Organic Produce
Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal, and unfortunately, there is a fair amount of truth to the messaging that organic food is better for you. It's not a total gimmick, as many people tend to think. We say 'unfortunately' as the organic section is just so expensive! It can seem crazy paying so much more for what looks like exactly the same product, but just with a different sticker. However, the differences do exist, even though they're not visible to the naked eye.
The main difference between organic and non-organic produce is that organic produce is not grown with toxic fertilizers. These same fertilizers have been found to contain cancer-causing properties that are best avoided. Even if you thoroughly wash all of your produce, you aren't safe from the risk of cancer. Just buy organic!
18. French Fries
Life just wouldn't be the same without French fries. Seriously - can you imagine burgers without fries? They just wouldn't be as good. No meal would be as good without them. We've all probably tried to justify our regular consumption of fries before. They're just potato, right? They're practically a plate of vegetables! Obviously, we all know that isn't quite true. But we didn't really count on them being a cancer-causing kind of food.
Remember that pesky chemical that forms when food is cooked at high temperatures? It's called acrylamide and it has already been linked to cancer in animals. The recommendation from scientists is to cook foods at lower temperatures, but of course, that means saying goodbye to hot and crispy fries. Try oven baking them instead - we know it won't be the same, but it's better than getting cancer.
You might remember us talking about vegetable oils earlier, or hydrogenated oils, as we prefer to call them. Margarine is kind of in the same boat. For decades, most people have purchased it under the belief that it's the healthier option when compared to butter. But margarine is basically a stick of hydrogenated oil, so it's really best avoided.
Most margarines also contain trans fats, which are terrible for heart health and tend to clog up the arteries over time. The great news for everyone is that butter is so much better and you can now make a totally guilt-free switch. It's higher in fat, but if you make sure you buy only high quality, grass-fed butter, the fats are actually really good for you. Start enjoying the fuller flavor and more satiating effects today.
We all love a bit of cake from time to time, and that's totally fine. We're not about to tell you to give up a slice of birthday cake because it might give you cancer. However, if you bake regularly with cake mixes, it might be time to reexamine those choices. Baking from scratch with healthier flour than refined white flour is a good alternative or you could just cut down in general. Either way, it's definitely time to give up the cake mix.
The sneaky thing about commercial cake mixes is that they contain low volumes of trans fats, which they're not legally required to disclose on the label. So, if you're baking a lot, it could all be adding up in your arteries. If you add frosting on top, it's going to be even worse.
Wow. Where do we even start with biscuits? We know they're delicious, but they're not even slightly healthy, even if you make them from scratch. If you're buying the type from the supermarket, they're all kinds of wrong. First of all, they are packed full of sodium, which, as you know, can cause blood pressure and cholesterol problems. Combined with the fact that biscuits are high in calories and excess consumption could lead to obesity, all of that extra sodium is really dangerous.
Next up, we have trans fats issues to address. Frozen biscuits have up to 3.5 grams of trans fats, which is absolutely massive. To put this into perspective, the cake mixes we mentioned above have less than 0.5 grams in the entire packet. Trans fats cause heart problems and have now also been linked to some common cancers, such as breast cancer.
22. Breakfast Sandwiches
When it comes to breakfast sandwiches, we've finally met a full cancer trilogy. You've got the refined white flour used to make the bun. Then there's the highly processed meats inside. Add in the 'fake' slice of American cheese and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster. We haven't even mentioned the high salt and trans fats content yet.
We get it, sometimes you're in a rush and it's just easier to heat one of these bad boys up and jump in the car. Just don't go making a habit of it. We would even suggest you go one further and give it up completely. Store something else in your fridge for emergency breakfasts instead. You don't need to keep cancer sandwiches around, even if it's just every once in a while. Try hard boiled eggs on a slice of whole wheat bread.
Donuts are certainly one of life's most delicious guilty pleasures. Let's face it, we all know they're not good for us, but we just can't help ourselves. Enjoying a donut from time to time is not going to kill you, but if you're indulging more than once a week, you might want to reevaluate some of your dietary choices. It's hard to resist a coffee and a donut to start the day, but it must be done!
Donuts are a problem because they're a bunch of bad things rolled into one. First, you have the refined white flour, which makes up the dough. Then it is deep fried at high temperatures, in oil. Lastly, it is coated in sugar or sugar-laden frosting. You know enough now to realize how this could end up causing cancer.
24. Instant Noodles
There's a bit of a common theme when it comes to cancer-causing foods. If it's a little too convenient, it's often bad for you. Which is definitely the case with instant noodles. To have a complete meal ready in just two minutes is almost over the top convenient. We don't want to go too heavy on instant noodles, though. While they certainly make conditions very friendly for cancers, they don't actively contain any known carcinogens.
Instant noodles and their accompanying flavor packets are full of salt and chemical preservatives, which are never a good thing. Instant noodles have also been associated with weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. If you're craving some noodles, we'd recommend splurging at your local Thai, Japanese, or Chinese restaurant instead. If they make their noodles fresh on site, that's even better.
There's nothing quite like the pie your mom makes when you visit home. Whether it's apple, pumpkin, cherry, or some other delicious thing, it always brings a sense of comfort and warm, fuzzy memories of childhood. We just love filling up on dessert then curling back up in the single bed we used to sleep in as kids. Fortunately, your mom's homemade pie is not going to give you cancer. It's certainly not great in terms of calories and sugar but indulging every so often is not a problem.
The real issue here is frozen pies that are made with all kinds of questionable ingredients, including refined white flour, preservatives, sugar, and extremely limited amounts of real fruit. Add some Cool Whip or custard on top and you've got yourself a cancer risk right there.
26. Fried Chicken
With every item on this list we really feel like we're disappointing everyone involved. But, to be honest, we don't think this will come as a huge surprise to most people. Fried chicken is not a health food and can even end up causing cancer. On top of all this, deep frying removes all of the good nutrients that once existed in the chicken, so there are no benefits to consuming it at all.
Cooking meat at such a high heat causes carcinogenic (i.e. cancer-causing) chemicals to form. These toxic chemicals are further increased when oil is reused, a practice that most commercial fried chicken places, as well as local restaurants continue. You can always make your own fried chicken at home with fresh oil, but don't kid yourself into thinking it's good for you.
27. Ice Cream
There's no debate here - ice cream is one of the best foods that has ever been invented. But 'invented' is definitely the correct word. There's nothing natural about ice cream, particularly store bought, highly processed brands. Otherwise known as the ones we all have sitting in our freezers. If you only buy ice cream from your lovely little Italian gelato place, you might be in the clear, but for the rest of us, we might need to make a few changes.
Besides all of the sugar and fat, which can lead to weight gain and obesity, as well as obesity-related diseases, ice cream contains chemicals known as emulsifiers. They give the ice cream its smooth texture and prevent it from looking and feeling lumpy. Unfortunately, emulsifiers are now being linked to colon cancer, so it's time to give up the ice cream!
28. Non-Dairy Creamers
That tiny little pinch of non-dairy creamer you add to your coffee each morning probably doesn't seem like much. But if you're drinking coffee every day, particularly multiple cups of it, it can all really start to add up. Non-dairy creamer is a completely made up food item that has zero value and contains lots of things that can harm you. There are even videos circulating online that prove it's flammable!
Non-dairy creamer is essentially composed of hydrogenated soy bean oil, high fructose corn syrup, and other synthetic chemicals. Remember, hydrogenated oils are full of omega-6 fatty acids and trans fats. Soy beans are typically GMO, as well. Your non-dairy creamer is basically a recipe for cancer. To avoid getting sick, start drinking your coffee black with no sugar. It takes some getting used to, but you'll get there!
We bet you knew this one was coming. Given their status as a fast food staple and American favorite, burgers were always going to pop up somewhere. They're just too good to be true and we hate that we can't eat them every day. If you eat frozen burgers or buy from fast food outlets regularly, this one is definitely for you.
First up, the buns and many sauces used on burgers are full of sugar and other chemicals. There's a reason why you can leave a McDonald's cheeseburger for a year and it doesn't decompose - it's because it's laden with synthetic preservatives that are not fir for human consumption. Add the processed meat into the mix and the whole gang is there. If you've got a burger craving, try making one at home instead.
Cookies are just like our other favorite, cake. As we learnt earlier, many cake mixes contain trans fats that companies are not obligated to list on their labels. If it's below 0.5 grams per serving, it doesn't have to be mentioned. Which is obviously a little sneaky, as nobody eats just one single cookie. If you bake up a batch you'll be eating at least six - or is that just something we'd do?
Trans fats are linked to pretty much every terrible condition you can think of: weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer. In fact, more and more evidence is beginning to link it to breast cancer, one of the most common and dangerous cancers out there. If you fancy baking some cookies, try making them from scratch instead.
31. Beef Jerky
To call the stuff we're referring to as 'beef jerky' is a major compliment. What we're talking about is more like 'meat stick'. You know the kind - Slim Jim-style, processed meat sticks. You can't even tell them apart from dog treats when you look at them. Okay, we have dissed them enough now, are you ready to find out about all of the cancer they can cause?
In addition to trans fats, high levels of sodium, and chemical preservatives, these things don't even taste good, so it's time to give it up. If you crave jerky-like snacks, we have good new for you: you can buy natural, healthier beef jerky that tastes so much better than a meat stick. You could even go a step further and make your own beef jerky at home.
Crackers seem innocent enough. And, to be honest, most of us even think of them as a healthy alternative to bread. Who hasn't thought of putting some cheese and tomato on top of a cracker instead of turning it into a whole sandwich? We don't even mind a bit of tuna and avocado on ours if we're really trying to make things gourmet.
The reality of crackers is that they're often made with hydrogenated oils that contain trans fats. Most brands also contain a high volume of sodium, which can cause obesity and heart-related problems. One or two crackers here and there is not going to be an issue, but the problem with crackers in general is that it's hard to just eat one or two. Always read the label and switch to a more natural brand without any trans fats.
33. Battered Fish
Fish and chips is the absolute epitome of a seaside vacation. But for some of us, we can take it a little too far, ordering it once or twice a week. Some of us don't even order it - we buy the frozen and battered filets in a box and fry it up again at home. A lot of people even trick themselves into thinking they're having a healthy fish dinner, when in reality, all of the nutrients have long since been fried away.
When the muscles of animals are deep fried at such a high temperature, carcinogenic compounds are formed that absolutely cause cancer. Heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are what you'll get from deep fried fish, and they're not pleasant. If you indulge in fish and chips too often you'll be putting yourself at risk, particularly of prostate cancer.
34. Spring Rolls
You knew this one was coming. Anyone who thinks deep-fried Chinese food could be even slightly healthy clearly needs to reeducate themselves! Of course, we know that our indulgence in spring rolls, dim sims, fried wontons, and other deep-fried delights is not exactly going to help our diet. But if you're like us, you won't believe how harmful these tasty appetizers can be.
Though some of you might be thinking "who eats spring rolls that much?" some of us partake in it as a 'late night at the office' kind of meal. Others order it at least once a week. Some of us are actually Chinese and fry up our own food. No matter why you eat them, they're not doing your health any good. They're fried in hydrogenated oils and are full of trans fats.
35. American Cheese
All you have to do is take a look at American cheese singles to know that they can't be good for you. They don't even melt properly when they're heated and they're an unnatural color. There's a reason for that and it's because they're dyed in order to get that yellow-orange tinge. As you can probably guess, some of these food dyes are carcinogenic, which means they could cause cancer.
Cheese singles like this are also packed with sodium and other chemicals that are not good for you. The one piece of good news in all this is that you now have a great excuse to buy fresh, healthy cheese for your sandwiches. Don't risk it on this fake food. Pick up some nice parmesan, brie, or cheddar at the store and watch your food and life improve.
36. Hot Dogs
Look, we're not going to say that you can never eat a hot dog again. But we will say that some cutting back needs to take place. If you really have to, buy one at a sports game when there's not much else on offer. But really try to phase these out of your life. Hot dogs actually produce carcinogenic nitrates, which are known to cause cancer.
In addition to that, they contain high levels of sodium, including sodium phosphate, which is an ingredient that even McDonald's has banned. You know there's something wrong if fast food chains don't even want anything to do with it! If you're craving a hot dog, try buying locally sourced organic pork sausages and putting them in a fresh bun. Add some fried onions, mustard, and ketchup on top and you are guaranteed to enjoy it.
Okay, before you get too freaked out, we're going to let you know it's not all candy we're talking about. While none of it could ever be classified as good for you, not all types of candy cause cancer. You'll just have to figure out if any of your favorites are cancer culprits. As you would know from just looking at candy, it's clearly unnatural coloring. All candies are dyed to give them their bright shades. Unfortunately, a lot of these dyes are extremely harmful carcinogens that will cause cancer.
Some dyes in particular should be avoided. These include Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, which should be labeled clearly on packaging. They all contain a chemical known as benzidine, a carcinogenic compound. Try switching to candy made from natural dyes and sugars next time you have a craving for sweets.
38. Granola Bars
Here is another surprise entry that most of us wouldn't expect to see. Who would have thought that granola bars, always marketed as a "healthy" snack, could be so bad for you? The reality of the situation is that most commercially produced granola bars are made with terrible ingredients. These include sugar, high fructose corn syrup, gluten, soybean oil, and other hydrogenated oils. Put simply, they're certainly not a health food.
Worst of all, many mass-produced granola bars contain an ingredient called DHT, which is a known cancer-causing carcinogen. You can rectify this situation by giving up granola bars, giving up granola bars that contain DHT, or switching to much healthier nut bars (i.e. not granola based) made with honey, as opposed to sugar or high fructose corn syrup. We assure you nut bars are much tastier!
39. Pickled Foods
With the rise in popularity of fermented foods and probiotics to promote gut health, anything pickled has been back in fashion again. But unfortunately, not all pickled foods are good for you and some caution does need to be taken. Though the research is relatively new, studies are linking pickled foods to stomach cancer.
The main concern when it comes to pickles and other pickled foods is whatever it has been pickled in. If you pickle your own foods, you should be in the clear. But most mass-produced product has normally been pickled in a liquid containing salt and nitrate. It's the combination of these two ingredients that is thought to be a cause of stomach cancer. Basically, before you chow down on a bowl of sauerkraut, check the ingredients and make sure they're natural.
40. Brown Rice
Just when you thought you were so good for making the switch over to brown rice, we're going to throw this curve ball at you. Technically, yes, brown rice has a lot more nutrients available to us than white rice. It's full of fiber and also contains selenium, whereas white rice doesn't contain much at all because it has been polished and stripped of its original nutrients.
However, because brown rice hasn't been polished, it means some not so good stuff has slipped through the cracks, too. For example, it contains arsenic, a known carcinogen notorious for increasing the risk of lung, bladder, and skin cancer. It's fine to keep eating brown rice in moderation, but we definitely recommend mixing it up a bit when it comes to grains. Throw in some white rice, pasta, or quinoa for variety.
41. Salted Fish
While this isn't exactly a popular western dish, anyone from regions of East and Southeast Asia will know what we're talking about here. Originally from China, salted fish is typically dried cod fish, which has been preserved with a lot of salt. Unfortunately for lovers of this flavorsome dish, it's not exactly good for you. Something happens during the steaming process, which causes toxic compounds to form.
These compounds are highly carcinogenic and have been known to increase the risk of cancer. Specifically, nasopharyngeal cancer, which is generally found in the upper throat, just behind the nose. This doesn't mean you can never enjoy salted fish again. It just means that you should definitely only eat it in moderation. Thankfully, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy fish. You could even just grill up a piece of cod and add salt.
42. Microwave Popcorn
Next time you have a movie night in front of your TV planned, you might want to think twice before putting that bag of delicious popcorn in the microwave. Yes, it seems even corn kernels can give you cancer these days! We hate having to be the ones to deliver the bad news, but the fact of the matter is that our favorite cinema snack is simply no good.
The one silver lining we can take from all of this is that it's specifically microwave popcorn that should be avoided. If you pop the kernels manually on the stove, it's fine. The reason the convenient microwave version is a no-go is because of the bag. It contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical known to increase the risk of internal organ cancers, as well as testicular cancer.
43. Canned Tomatoes
Wait a minute - tomatoes are bad? Thankfully, no. Fresh tomatoes are super healthy and actually have cancer fighting properties. The canned variety, however, are a completely different story. There's a few reasons why you should ditch canned tomatoes from your pasta sauces and we're going to start with the can itself. Most cans are lined with BPA, the same cancer-causing chemical that can be found in plastic bottles.
In the case of tomatoes, BPA in the can lining is even more harmful than normal. This is because of the high acidity of the tomatoes. It tends to leech the BPA from the can and into the tomatoes, making it worse than sipping on a plastic water bottle. Buy fresh tomatoes and blend them up instead or buy tomatoes in a glass jar to avoid potential cancer.
We know we said meatballs, but this can really include any kind of processed, ground meat product. If you're making your own meatballs at home with high quality, grass-fed meat, you've got no reason to worry. But if you're partial to the packaged supermarket brands it might be time to make the switch to something more natural. We know everyone loves an easy dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, but there's better ways to do it without taking the cancer risk.
Processed meatballs and other low-quality ground meat products contain trans fats, as well as unnatural preservatives. If you've got a real craving for red meat, we'd recommend making your own meatballs, splurging on a nice piece of grass-fed steak, or even buying a high-quality burger. Don't settle for highly processed meatballs that barely even resemble meat!
45. Soy Milk
We know there has been a bit of a movement away from traditional dairy milk, but trust us on this one, soy milk is not going to make things any better for you. We've already talked about how most soy products are GMOs and have been linked to cancer, but soy milk in particular carries an even bigger risk. Due to the natural estrogen in soy, it can cause breast cancer to develop and grow. It can also cause existing cancers to grow at a faster rate.
Some studies have even suggested that soy products can actually turn on genes that can cause cancer. All in all, it's a pretty dangerous prognosis and we highly recommend stepping away from the soy milk. If you're really set on giving up dairy, try a more natural nut milk, such as almond milk or cashew milk instead.
To be clear, we aren't talking about fibrous cereals, such as bran or whole wheat-based grains. We are talking about the really sugary stuff. You know the ones, the good ones. Bright colors, super sweet taste, and totally unnatural in appearance. The types of cereals you would beg your parents to buy for you before they settled on healthy and boring old bran.
It might be of some comfort to learn that your parents did the right thing. Starting your day off with a bowl of sugar is a terrible idea. On top of that, some American cereals contain butylated hydroxytoluene or butylated hydroxyanisole, which are both recognized as carcinogens that increase the risk of cancer. Countries in Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand have banned both of these, which gives you an idea of how unhealthy they really are.
47. Instant Oatmeal
If you ever thought it was crazy that you could put a bowl of instant oatmeal in the microwave for a minute and then get a perfect bowl of steamy hot goodness back, that's because it is. It's not healthy - instant oatmeal is full of additives that make this process so amazingly easy and convenient. For so many of us, it's the perfect winter breakfast that never takes too long to prepare. It tastes great and it's also cheap!
But as we've seen here, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Instant oatmeal typically contains a harmful ingredient called 4-Mel, which has been shown to increase the rate of tumor growth in rats. We know human bodies don't work in the exact same way as rats, but it's still worrying nonetheless.
48. Bottled Drinks
Any kind of drink you purchase that comes in a plastic bottle is automatically a no-go zone. Yes, even bottled water should be avoided. This is not because of the drink in question's content (though some are undoubtedly questionable), but because of the packaging. Commercial plastic bottles and containers are lined with a chemical called BPA, which has been proven to be extremely harmful to the human body.
BPA has been linked to a higher rate of reproductive cancers, as well as the growth of male breasts. Basically, this chemical messes with our hormones in a very dangerous way. If you buy anything in a plastic bottle, ensure it is labeled 'BPA-free' or simply buy drinks that come in glass bottles. Better yet, you could carry your own BPA-free bottle around with you in your bag.
49. Vegetable Burgers
There is a common misconception that 'vegetarian' automatically means 'healthy'. This couldn't be further from the truth. If anything, vegetarians have to be even more careful about what they eat, to ensure they're getting enough essential nutrients. Many products marketed to vegetarians are also quite suspect. One of these is the veggie burger.
Don't get us wrong, we've tried some pretty decent and healthy homemade veggie burgers in our time, but some of the mass-produced supermarket brands should be absolutely avoided. Artificial flavors and carcinogenic coloring are common ingredients in many vegetable burgers, so always be careful when you shop and make sure you read the label. The great news is that there are plenty of healthy veggie burgers out there, you might just have to look a little harder. Check out your local health food store if your supermarket isn't helpful.
50. Cool Whip
Let's finish off with another completely obvious terrible food. Cool Whip, marketed as a whipped cream-like product, barely even contains any dairy. It is mostly composed of hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, chemical additives and preservatives, and a bit of skim milk and water. If you're wondering how they manage to make it taste so good, it's the many grams of high fructose corn syrup that has completely taken over.
We already know how bad hydrogenated oils are and how they can increase your risk of contracting cancer, but Cool Whip can do so much worse. One of the many synthetic additives in Cool Whip, sorbitan monostearate, has been found to enlarge the kidneys of mice. Yikes. For a creamy addition to your dessert, why not use full fat Greek yoghurt or fresh whipped cream instead?