When it comes to staying healthy, diet is your first line of defense. While genetics and environment can play a role too, watching what you eat—and carefully choosing what NOT to eat—could dramatically slash your risk of cancer.
Start by nixing these six foods cancer experts refuse to eat from your own diet…
1. Hot dogs:
Highly processed meats such as lunch meats and hot dogs have been linked to cancer. It’s typically the way the meats are processed, such as curing using nitrates or nitrites, that leads to the formation of cancer causing compounds such as N-nitroso-compounds (NOC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
A study out of Hawaii showed that folks who regularly ate highly processed meats had a 67 percent higher risk of cancer than people who ate them only rarely. Lower your own risk by removing them from your menu, or saving them only for special occasions.
2. Trans fats:
A trans fats ban goes into effect in the United States starting in 2018, which means they may not be an issue for much longer. But the food industry has made it clear they’re not pleased with the decision, and as the deadline approaches they still may push for permission to keep using small amounts. So the fight might not be over.
A large European study found that women who had the highest levels of trans fats in their blood were about twice as likely as women with the lowest levels to develop breast cancer. For now you will still find trans fats in prepackaged pastries, doughnuts, vegetable oils, frozen pizza and more.
Even if the packaging claims there’s 0 grams of trans fats that’s no guarantee you’re not eating them. Because, believe it or not, the food manufacturers are allowed to use up to .4 grams without ever having to reveal it. The key to avoiding them is to go straight to the ingredients list and look for the words “partially hydrogenated oil.”
3. Farmed salmon:
Salmon is terrific for you if you choose the right kind. Just be sure to pick wild caught fish and pass on the farmed varieties. According to a study out of the University of Albany, farmed salmon is riddled with pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals that are known carcinogens.
And although a recent study found some evidence of parasites in Pacific caught wild Alaskan salmon, you can relax. The risk of being exposed to parasites is essentially the same as it would be with eating any raw or undercooked foods. The truth is infections are extremely rare and as long as you’re not eating your salmon raw most experts agree there’s little to worry about.
4. Microwave popcorn:
Don’t worry, if you’re a popcorn fan you don’t need to give up your favorite snack. It’s the microwave popcorn bags that pose a potential danger. So simply switch to air popping your corn, or go old school and fix it on the stove in a pot instead.
You see, some microwave popcorn bags are lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA is classified as a likely carcinogen and you breathe in some of the creepy chemical with the delicious smelling steam that rises from your popcorn bag.
5. Canned tomatoes:
The problem with canned tomatoes isn’t the delicious tomatoes themselves, of course. Once again it’s the packaging that’s the problem. The cans are typically lined with a chemical called BPA, which has been shown to increase the risk of several types of cancer.
BPA is an even bigger problem in canned tomatoes than it is in other fruits or veggies because the fruit’s higher acid content causes the cancer-linked chemical to leech into them. The fix is easy. Simply use fresh tomatoes instead.
6. Charred meats:
For some folks nothing beats the flavor of a good char on a grilled steak. But it turns out you could be paying a steep price for those grill marks, because eating charred foods could be raising your cancer risk.
Cooking meat at high temperatures has been linked to cancer. To minimize your risk try cooking your steaks, burgers and other meats for longer at lower temperatures instead.
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