What are carcinogenic foods?

If you don’t smoke, you drink alcohol in moderation and you are careful with your use of chemicals around the home, you may think that you have reduced your risk of cancer significantly. However, what you may not realize is that some of the foods we eat daily are carcinogenic foods . Here are 6 of the worst offenders.

non organic fruits and vegetables

Non-organic fruit and vegetables


Although fresh produce is rich in antioxidants, many people do not appreciate that some of the pesticides used to spray fruit and vegetable crops are cancer-causing.

There is certainly evidence to suggest that pesticide exposure increases the risk of tumors affecting the brain, breast and prostate as well as lymphoma and leukaemia.

Some pesticides are now banned for this very reason, but others with carcinogenic properties are still in use.

The Environmental Working Group publishes a list of produce that contains the highest levels of pesticide residues, which this year highlighted that apples, strawberries, peaches, grapes, celery and spinach give you the largest dose of pesticides.

Our Suggestion

If you only buy a small amount of organic produce, make sure you include the items mentioned above to protect your body cells from cancerous changes.

processed meat

Processed meats

Unless you are a vegetarian, you probably have ham, bacon and sausages in your refrigerator. However, you probably didn’t know that the preservatives added to these meats to make them seem fresh and appetizing are linked to cancer.

For instance, sodium nitrite and nitrate, which find their way into a range of cured meats, are known to significantly increase your risk of colorectal tumors.

To reduce your risk, only choose meat products that are free of nitrites and nitrates.

Ideally, you should avoid processed meats altogether, as they are high in salt, which increases your risk of cancerous changes to your stomach.

Our Suggestion

You can make your own cooked meats by roasting a joint of beef, lamb or pork each week to slice for use in sandwiches and salads.

Genetically Modified Foods

Genetically modified produce

There might be limited studies in humans, but research in animals shows that a diet rich in GM corn triggers tumor growth.

Worryingly, even small doses of genetically modified foods encourage cancerous tumors. The findings of studies into the impact of consuming genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are significant, as you probably include GM ingredients in your diet each day without realizing it.

For example, even if you avoid obvious GMO sources, such as non-organic soya beans, corn and canola oil, these food items make their way into all kinds of processed foods.

Our Suggestion

The best ways to minimize your GMO intake is to avoid processed items as much as possible and to choose organic foods as much as you can. While organic products are more expensive, with the risks that GM crops bring, you can’t really put a price on your health and safety.

refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates

White bread, white rice, white pasta, cookies, cakes and confectionery are all refined carbohydrates.

Not only are they lower in fibre and protective vitamins and minerals, but refined carbs are also bad news for your health.

As highly processed carbohydrates tend to have a high glycemic index, they raise your blood sugars quickly, increasing your risk of weight gain and diabetes.

However, that’s not the only problem with high GI carbs. Research now shows that carbohydrates that readily release their sugars also help to feed cancerous cells, as their sugar is easily used as an energy source, helping to fuel the growth of tumors.

To protect yourself from carbohydrates that potentially cause cancer, swap refined grains for whole grains and avoid foods with added sugars whenever you can.

Our Suggestion

Good options for whole grains are porridge, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and grainy bread.

soda and aerated drinks


If you can’t get through the day without a can or two of cola, you should be concerned about more than just the sugar and caffeine in your cola.

Studies show that the caramel coloring commonly used in cola induces cancerous changes in animal cells, leading to thyroid tumors.

There are suggested limits to the amount of this artificial coloring you should consume each day, but you don’t even have to drink a lot of cola to exceed your quota, as a 20oz bottle contains more than ten times the maximum recommended intake.

Diet sodas are no better for you, as they contain the same artificial colourings as their full sugar counterparts.

Additionally, diet sodas use artificial sweeteners, which are also believed to be carcinogenic. For instance, consumption of saccharin is linked to bladder tumors, while aspartame is linked to brain tumors.

Our Suggestion

It’s best to steer clear of all sodas, choosing a diluted glass of pure fruit juice if you want a sweeter drink.


Breakfast cereals

Although a bowl of cereal is often recommended as a healthy way to start the day, did you know that commercially produced breakfast cereals may also be cancer-causing? The concern about breakfast cereals relates to their acrylamide content, which forms when they are baked to a high temperature during the manufacturing process.

In large quantities acrylamide leads to tumor development, so a daily bowl of bran flakes might not be the best way forward.

Our Suggestion

Choose an unprocessed cereal, with porridge or homemade muesli an ideal choice. By switching your cereal, you will also reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates so that you will reduce your tumor risk in more ways than one.

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