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Processed Meat

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Nowadays, Americans are eating meat more than ever, coming in at a whopping 222 pounds each year, per person! The World Health Organization warns that if you eat so much as 1 hotdog a day, then your chances of getting cancer will increase by 18%. Specifically, processed meats like bacon, pepperoni, packaged lunch meats and many more may increase the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer.

Hot beverages

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A study recently discovered a link between esophageal cancer and hot beverages, stating that hot beverages at temperatures higher than 140 degrees can cause thermal damage in the esophagus, This is because the cells that line the esophagus will be damaged and thus being made responsible for an increased risk of the cancer. So make sure to let you coffee cool down before drinking it!

Overcooked and burnt food

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Some overcooked food will form types of chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some believe that digesting these compounds can cause ovarian or endometrial cancers. PAHs come from amino acids, sugars and creatinine as they react to high temperatures, as they drip down onto the open flame and release smoke, whilst HCAs come from meats cooked at 300 degrees or above.

Alcoholic beverages

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Even drank in small amounts, alcohol is linked to 5.6% of all new cancers and 4% of cancer deaths. Those who drink alcohol regularly will increase the likelihood of developing cancer in their mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon and rectum. Additionally, some have an inherited gene that speeds up the conversion of alcohol into the toxic chemical acetaldehyde, increasing the chance of esophageal cancer.


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Many believe that the calcium included in products like milk will actually lower the risk of cancers like colorectal cancer. However, it has also been found that those who have a high dairy intake will actually have an increased chance of developing prostate cancer. In a 28 year study of 21,000 people, those who consumed more than 2.5 servings of dairy each day were more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Refined carbohydrates and sugar

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Refined carbohydrates include bread, white rice, pasta and soft drinks. Over-indulging on these could make you twice as likely to develop colon cancer compared to those who eat a higher percentage whole grains, vegetables and fruits instead. They create high blood glucose and insulin levels in the body that will cause an increase of inflammation and, in severe cases, cancer.

Red meat

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If you don’t want to get colorectal cancer, then avoid eating more than 18 ounces of red meat per week. When this meat is broken down in the body, it forms N-nitroso compounds that damage the gut’s lining and can lead to cancer. Doctors have recently suggested eating meat-free on 3 days of the week, to avoid over-consumption of the stuff and focus on balance instead.

Salt-cured and pickled foods

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Cancer studies from the United Kingdom have found a link between nasopharyngeal cancer and those who regularly eat salt-cured fish. It also indicated that eating pickled foods increased the risk of stomach cancer. This was found as more than half of the new cases of gastric cancer diagnosed each year were found in Eastern Asia – where salt-cured fish is notably sold.

Microwave popcorn

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Popcorn is a great snack for those who are on a diet and need to eat something sweet, however it does come with it’s own health problems. The lining of the bag that contains the popcorn has compounds in that are there to resist grease and prevent leaking. However, that compound also breaks down into a chemical that researchers believe could cause cancer – though research is in its early stages.

Food Dyes

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There has always been controversy around the use of food dyes, and it doesn’t show signs of going away. Research has found that dyes contain compounds that caused cancer in lab animals. Many argue that, as they add no real value to a product food, dyes are not worth any of the potential risks and should not be allowed in food and drink.


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Sausages are one of the main foods that can cause cancer, due to the manufacturing process involved in preserving them. The preservation process often involves nitrates, which are known to produce carcinogens. Additionally, even the best quality, organic sausages are considered a BBQ staple – which returns us back to the debate regarding the relationship between burnt food, smoke, and cancer.

Canned tomatoes

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One of the issues with canned tomatoes is the fact that food cans are commonly lined with a chemical called bisphenol-a. BPA has been linked to cancer and other health issues. Overall, the best way to avoid this is to stick with fresh tomato tomatoes, which are far more delicious anyway!

French fries

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As well as a risk to your waistline, unfortunately, french fries can actually pose a potential cancer and health risk. This is because of the fact that a chemical called acrylamide can form in them when cooked at a high temperature. If you needed some perspective – acrylamide can also be found in cigarette smoke and certain industrial processes, obviously hazardous to health.

Sugary cereals

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Sugary cereals also have links to various types of cancer, largely due to their obesogenic properties in addition to their ack of nutritional value. That’s not to say sugary cereals are guaranteed to cause cancer, though, as eating them in small to moderate doses is likely to be fine. Instead, just cut down and focus on making sure your diet is balanced and varied with more nutritionally dense options.

Artificial sweeteners

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Research has found that artificial sweeteners can potentially cause cancer. This includes sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, and cyclamate. Though these are considered largely safe for humans, testing on lab rats showed them to contribute to cancer, so the long-term effects are still unclear. As always, everything in moderation is key.

Mass produced bread

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Potassium bromate is one of the key food additives found in bread because of its ability to make the dough more elastic. However, this is a substance that is found to have possible carcinogen properties, and even comes with a warning label on products in California.

Partially hydrogenated oils

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Partially hydrogenated oils can cause a variety of health and well-being concerns. They are considered to be bad for heart health, as well as contributing to inflammation and cell damage – attributes that are all commonly linked to cancer. The FDA has even labelled these oils, found in many ultra-processed snack foods, as ‘no longer recognised as safe’.

Farmed salmon

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Wild salmon are typically fine, but you need to be a little more careful with farmed salmon. The reason for this is because salmon raised on farms are more likely to be contaminated with carcinogens, with the Environmental Working Group finding farmed salmon to contain 16x the polychlorinated biphenyls of wild salmon.


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Studies have found that regular soda consumption can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. Additionally, US Consumer Reports also found that the chemical known as 4-methylimidazole, the additive that gives cola it’s delicious caramel color, can also increase the risk of cancer. Researchers are constantly looking for more data to back this up.


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Milk is typically fine.. but it’s always important to be cautious. A study from way back in 2004 found that there was a definitive association and link between milk consumption, and the increased risk of developing prostate cancer. It’s believed that the animal fat in dairy products can increase cancer risk, and milk may be the largest culprit.


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Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) can also have a link to the development of tumors, according to some studies. This is likely due to the chemicals that are used to grow them, which many question the suitability of for human consumption. Many people tend to try and avoid foods that are linked to GMOs because of these exact risks, though data is still inconclusive.


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Pasta, generally, has a high glycemic index (GI), which means that it can rapidly elevate blood sugar levels. There is a link between this and the development of certain types of cancer, such as blood cancer. Moderate amounts of pasta will be fine but, as with anything, overindulging on it too often could pose a significant health risk.


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We all know that there can be significant health risks associated with peanuts if you are allergic. What many people don’t know, however, is that peanuts can be contaminated with toxin-producing molds. In these cases, laboratory animals tested and consuming these peanuts were known to sometimes develop cancer.

Potato chips

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According to studies from the World Cancer Research Fund, potato chips are another of the foods that can cause cancer, and this is typically because of the obesogenic qualities they possess. It is important to try to avoid chips where possible, or at the very least to reduce your intake in order to limit any risks associated.

Ice cream

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Sorry guys, but it’s true that in some cases ice cream can cause an increased risk of developing cancer. Indeed, because delicious ice cream is made of dairy and high in saturated fat, it is linked to the potential development of certain cancers, as well as an increased risk of heart disease.

Ready meals

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Beware when heading to the ready meal aisle of the grocery store. Despite their convenience, it’s important to understand that microwave ready meals can provide a risk of developing cancer. Now and again is fine, but due to the added sugars, sodium, and preservatives, having too many puts you at risk. If you know you’ve got a busy week ahead, consider DIY meal-prepping.


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Whilst fresh tacos are fine, the boxed tacos that you tend to buy for convenience should be avoided. That’s because they contain problem ingredients that can be hazardous to your health, and might lead to greater risk of developing cancer long-term. Try to avoid these boxed meals as much as possible, and stick to fresh foods that you recognise the ingredient list of where possible!

Instant noodles

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Along a similar line, instant noodles are also not the best idea for your diet, due to the preservatives and ingredients they contain. Instead, the best and most healthy options would be to make your own noodles, by purchasing fresher rice egg noodles, and low-sodium broth using store cupboard ingredients you probably already have lying around!


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Similarly to pasta, bagels contain a large glycemic index, and studies have shown that people with high GI in their diets had a 49% higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer. Adding things like olive oil to your bagel or pasta can actually help to lower the GI of the meal, as well as ensuring that the rest of your diet is balanced and varied.

Instant soup

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Really, anything that’s instant is not going to be the best for your health. Instant soup is another that can cause things like stomach cancer, as well as heart disease and high blood pressure. But this is typically if you are eating large quantities, so you should be absolutely fine enjoying this in moderation. Just try to opt for homemade wherever you can.

Breakfast sandwiches

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Now, if you make your own at home, there is likely to be little issue. If you’re going for store-bought breakfast sandwiches, however, be wary that they contain high volumes of potassium bromate, making them ultra-processed. Not only does this mean that they aren’t particularly healthy, they can also lead to higher risk of developing cancer.

Flavored crackers

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Flavored crackers are something that should also be avoided, and there are plenty of reasons behind this. Firstly, they tend to contain bromated flours, which are known to increase the risk of developing various forms of cancer. They’re also rife with plenty of sugar, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavorings too.


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In addition to being a red meat, lamb is also very high in saturated fat. Whilst this doesn’t contain the heart disease risks many once believed it did, increased consumption can lead to a variety of other health concerns, including an increased risk of breast cancer.

Fried chicken

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Fried chicken might be delicious, but it can actually be harmful to your health long-term. Barbecuing, grilling, and frying your food are among the most harmful cooking methods. This is because the high heat can provoke any potential carcinogenic properties, increasing the risk of tumours developing. Also, fried chicken is often made with low quality meat, pumped full of unknown additives.

Fish and chips

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Any Brits, look away now! Fish and ‘chips’ is one of the foods that increases cancer risk due to high levels of saturated fat from the inclusion of French fries, as well as the beer batter coating that surrounds the fish. If you want to enjoy a healthy (and probably more delicious) alternative, consider making your own and poaching your fish instead.

Grilled vegetables

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Vegetables in and of themselves are wonderfully healthy and should be a key part of any diet. Whilst it’s healthier than deep fat frying in many ways, grilling veggies comes with a whole host of problems. The process removes their antioxidants and charring is thought by many to be linked to cancer. Instead, consider eating them raw or steaming them.

Burnt toast

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It might be an acquired taste or guilty pleasure for some, but burnt toast is actually pretty bad for you. One of the reasons for this is because the interaction between food and extreme, high temperatures is thought of to be carcinogenic. Instead, stick to normal bread – or be sure to at least turn down the setting on your toaster.

Hot dogs

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They might be an American institution these days, but hot dogs tick two health hazard boxes. Firstly, they are made up of highly processed meat and low quality bread. On top of that they are then barbecued, making them even more of a cancer risk. Try to avoid where possible, or at the very least reduce your consumption levels.

Chicken nuggets

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The kids might love chicken nuggets but, as a parent, they are not necessarily the best option for a healthy food. They are coated in breadcrumbs and fried, which makes them pretty unhealthy, not to mention the insane levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals added to them that we know very little about. Steer clear of any ultra-processed foods as much as possible to reduce the risks.


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The problem with candy is that it is, of course, typically sweetened via high-fructose corn syrup. This is something that is metabolized more quickly by cancer cells, thus making it a significant health hazard if over-consumed. Of course, it is fine to have some candy as a treat, but you also need to be mindful of your intake.


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Not all shellfish is linked to the potential risk of cancer, but some studies suggest that shellfish containing high environmental contaminants can be linked to increased risk of developing cancer. Contaminants such as PCBs, dioxins, and chlorinated pesticides are a few of the things to be aware of here.

Energy drinks

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Energy drinks are high in caffeine, and this is something that can be hazardous to to your health in a number of ways. Now, there is no direct link scientific link between energy drinks and cancer, however, doctors advise against too much caffeine and sugar in general, as this can increase the risk of cancers developing.

Non-organic eggs

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Whilst studies have not necessarily produced anything concrete and definitive, it is suggested that eating several non-organic eggs each week could be associated with a 19% greater risk of developing cancer. So you need to be careful about your egg consumption, and opt for organic or free-range eggs wherever possible.

44. Dried figs

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Dried figs are a tasty and convenient snack for both adults and kids alike, but you need to be aware of the fact that they come with a potential risk of long-term health concerns. According to studies, some dried fruits can reduce the risk of developing cancer, but dried figs actually lead to increased risk.

45. Frozen sweetcorn

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According to recent health studies, adding frozen sweetcorn to salads without cooking it can be a problem due to the presence of listeria monocytogenes, a type of bacteria hazardous to humans. Most people will have very mild to no symptoms, but in older people or pregnant women, there is a greater risk of health problems, and might lead to increased cancer risk.

46. Margarine

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Margarine might be an attractive alternative to butter for a lot of people, but it is also a food that has been linked to the risk of developing cancer. This is due to the discovery of compounds glycidol and 3-MCPD found in the spreads, which are considered as being possibly carcinogenic.

47. Non-organic potatoes

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Potatoes are a staple of mealtimes everywhere, but you need to be aware of the types of potatoes you are consuming. This is because some of them are grown using pesticides, and these can leave harmful chemicals that can be harmful to your body, and might increase the risk of developing cancers.

48. Bell peppers

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Before you get too alarmed, bell peppers in and of themselves are not linked to the risk of cancer, but it depends on how they are produced. Much the same as potatoes, and other fruit and vegetables, non-organic bell peppers can sometimes contain pesticide residue, which something that can be linked to long-term health problems, and the risk of cancer.

49. Pork chops

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Pork chops might be delicious, and a tasty, flavorsome alternative to beef, but pork is still a red meat. And, because of this, it contains a chemical called haem, which breaks down in the gut and forms N-nitroso chemicals, which have been linked to the risk of bowel cancer. Limiting your pork intake would be a good idea to help you remain as healthy as possible.

50. Chicken

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Again, chicken on its own is typically fine, but it depends a lot on how it might be produced. For instance, chickens that contains things like pesticides and other chemicals (such as chlorine) can be hazardous to your health. It is important to know what you’re buying before you decide to get your chicken, and you need to research your food.

51. Donuts

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Donuts might be delicious, but they are also deep fried, which means they aren’t too great for your health. During the frying process, oil is heated to a high temperature, and potentially carcinogenic compounds can wind up forming in the food as a result. As such, it is important to limit your donut intake as much as you can.

52. Cookies

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According to research, a link has been found between cancer and an industrial chemical called acrylamide. This chemical is generated during the processing of food, and it is commonly found in cookies. Whilst these are fine to consume in small doses, large quantities of cookies will produce health concerns.

53. Ham

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Ham is tasty and convenient, and makes a great addition to any sandwich or lunch experience. The problem with ham is that it is a red meat as well as processed meat, which is defined by the World Health Organization is a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning it can be linked to increased risk of bowel cancer.

54. Burgers

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Hamburgers might be a staple of American fast food culture, but they can also link to issues like increased risk of cancer. The reason for this is because of the chemicals found in the meat during the cooking and processing, including things like nitrates and nitrites, which are linked to the potential for cancer.

55. Cake

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Whilst sugar in an of itself does not cause cancer, and is not carcinogenic, the over-consumption of sugar, especially processed sugar, can lead to obesity, which is a big risk factor in terms of cancer. Eating too much cake can lead to plenty of health problems, including presenting the risk of cancer long-term.

56. Non-organic strawberries

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Strawberries are an excellent choice of dessert but it is important to be aware of where your strawberries come from and how they are produced. Each year, the Environmental Working Group produces a list of fruit and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues, with strawberry ranking high on this list.

57. Lettuce

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Lettuce is generally considered to be one of the healthiest and tastiest foods around, and it probably is. But, you need to beware of how the lettuce has been produced, and whether it contains pesticide residues, as these can be really bad for you, and might contribute to the increased risk of developing cancer.

58. Apples

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Apples are one of the most common and popular fruits in the world, an the more apples you can consume, the better. However, it is important to understand that a lot of apples are often coated in a residual pesticides, which can make them hazardous, as well as contributing the risk of cancer.

59. Flour

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Processed grains and refined grains can increase our risk of colon cancer, and flour falls into this category. Foods containing white flour can increase blood sugar levels, and this can lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can elevate the risk of colon cancer.

60. Carrot juice

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Though carrots themselves are incredibly healthy and really, really good for you, carrot juice is more processed, and this is something that can cause health concerns. Eating or drinking processed foods elevates the potential risk of cancer, so you need to make sure you aren’t drinking too much carrot juice.