Did you know that foods you may eat every day increase your risk of cancer? Even healthy foods such as mushrooms, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, and salmon are capable of causing cancer, depending on the circumstances. And some foods that appear to be healthy, such as microwave popcorn, are loaded with cancer-causing chemicals.
"Many foods that people eat every day can, under some circumstances, cause cancer," says Dr. David Brownstein, author of Dr. David Brownstein's Natural Way to Health newsletter. "If you're not reading labels, and not buying organic foods, you're eating carcinogens. That's especially true if you're eating processed foods.
"There's no doubt we are what we eat," Brownstein told Newsmax Health.
Below is a list of seven foods that can cause cancer:
Mushrooms. A recent study published in PLOS One found that cadmium, a metal found in mushrooms, can increase a woman's chance of endometrial cancer by 22 percent. The substance has been found to interfere with normal hormonal balance and to increase rapid cell division — two factors implicated in the development of cancer.
"Cadmium is an estrogen-mimicking chemical, meaning it imitates estrogen and its effects on the body," said lead author Jane McElroy, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Missouri Health School of Medicine.
"Endometrial cancer has been associated with estrogen exposure. Because cadmium mimics estrogen, it may lead to an increased growth of the endometrium, contributing to an increased risk of endometrial cancer," she noted.
Cadmium is also found in liver, shellfish, kidneys, and tobacco.
Microwave popcorn. Ah, the aroma of microwave popcorn — how could it be harmful? Unfortunately, there are several risks involved. First, the bag is lined with a chemical coating that, according to the FDA, breaks down into perfluorooctanoic (PFOC) acid, a chemical linked to cancer in lab animals when heated. Some popular popcorn brands still contain partially hydrogenated oil, meaning they contain trans fats, which Vanderbilt researchers say can contribute to deaths from any cause, including cancer.
The delicious-smelling fumes can be caused by artificial flavoring which contains diacetyl, a poison shown to cause lung damage known as bronchiolitis obliterans or "popcorn lung."
Farmed Fish. Although farmed fish is cheaper than fish caught in the wild, farmed fish are treated with antibiotics, pesticides and other carcinogenic chemicals to try to control the diseases that result in the crowded water-farming environment. According to the Environmental Working Group, farmed salmon has about 16 times the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) found in wild salmon. In addition, farmed fish doesn't contain as much heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids as wild salmon.
Since almost all tilapia in this country is farm-raised, many experts advise you to avoid them completely, and some say that eating a hamburger or bacon is healthier than eating tilapia. The fish are often genetically modified and given antibiotics, and since they will eat almost anything, farmers sometimes give them very poor diets of GMO corn and soy pellets and even throw in chicken and pig feces.
"It's a really dirty fish," said Brownstein. Tilapia can have high amounts of carcinogens — up to 10 times more than other fish. They also contain less omega-3 fatty acids than most fish, and more inflammation-promoting omega -6 fatty acids.
Processed meats. After a review of more than 88 studies, the International Agency for Cancer Research, which is the cancer agency of The World Health Organization (WHO), announced that processed meat is a carcinogen and is especially linked to colorectal and stomach cancer. Processed meats are those that have been salted, cured, fermented, or smoked. Curing meats by adding nitrates or nitrites and smoking can cause the formation of carcinogenic chemicals such as N-nitroso-compounds (NOC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Popular foods include ham, bacon, hot dogs, and sausage.
WHO put processed meat in the same Group 1 carcinogen category as asbestos and smoking tobacco. A report from the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) found an 18 percent increase in colorectal cancer for each increase of 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of processed meat eaten each day.
Artificial sweeteners. If you're using artificial sweeteners in pink and blue packets to sweeten coffee or tea, or if you drink artificially sweetened drinks, you're consuming chemicals known to cause cancer. Laboratory studies have found that exposing cancer cells to aspartame spurs their activity and increases their mobility. Acesulfame potassium, which is used to hide the disagreeable aftertaste of artificial sweeteners, is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, thymus cancer, and leukemia. Sucralose (used in Splenda) damages the gut's microbiome; damage to the microbiome has been linked with various types of cancer, including colorectal and ovarian.
Potato chips. The high temperatures used to cook potato chips causes them to create the carcinogen acrylamide. Federal standards limit the amount of acrylamide in drinking water to 0.12 milligrams per 8 ounces, but a study by the Environmental Law Foundation found that potato chips contained up to 900 times the amount legally allowed in water. In addition, the oil used to cook potato chips usually means the chips contain trans fats, even if they're not listed on the label. If a food contains less than half a gram in a serving, it doesn't have to be listed on the label. And how many people eat only one serving of potato chips?
Broccoli. Although broccoli is usually a very healthy food, it could be deadly for women who carry mutated BRCA genes, often called the "Angelina Jolie" breast cancer gene. Broccoli, along with avocadoes and green leafy vegetables — foods at the top of most lists of foods to include in a healthy diet — are high in folate. Mutated BRCA genes greatly increase the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Folate causes the body to produce formaldehyde, a carcinogenic chemical that irreparably damages the DNA of mutated cells, and could spur the formation of deadly tumors.
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