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Can Certain Foods Increase Cancer Risk?

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Research suggests that maintaining a healthy diet, along with weight management and physical activity, can reduce your risk of cancer. Similarly to smoking and alcohol consumption, which are associated with an increased risk of developing cancer, research has also showed that certain foods increase cancer risk in individuals. These foods are unhealthy and detrimental for your health. Therefore, knowing which foods increase cancer risk and reducing the intake of these unhealthy foods in your diet may lower your risk of developing the disease.

Red Meat

High consumption of red meat is linked with the risk of developing cancer, though grass-fed beef that has CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) may actually help fight cancer. According to a study, regular intake of red meat over a period of 10 years increases risk of developing cancer by 20 percent in women and 22 percent in men.

Processed Meat

Processed meats, like sausages, bacon, lunch meat, and hot dogs, are foods that increase cancer risk. The increased risk associated with eating processed meat is owing to the sodium nitrate content of these foods. Sodium nitrate is added to cured and processed foods as an antimicrobial agent, color fixative, flavorant, and preservative. This sodium nitrate can later be converted to cancer-causing nitosamines. Therefore, individuals who consume a high amount of processed meat as compared to individuals who consume smaller amounts are 50 percent more likely to develop cancer. Moreover, these individuals are also more likely to develop stomach cancer and 68 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.

Potato Chips and French Fries

Potato chips and French fries are foods that increase cancer risk owing to their high content of acrylamide, which results from food being heated at high temperatures. This is known to increase the risk of several forms of cancer and is considered a probable human carcinogen.

Well-Cooked and Charred Meats

The way food is cooked also has an impact on the cancer risk it poses. Well-done and charred meats are foods that increase cancer risk. Researchers have found a link between cancer risk and well-done meats cooked at high temperatures.


Though it may surprise you, sugar is on the list when it comes to which foods increase cancer risk, especially fructose. All body cells require sugar. However, cancer cells consume greater quantities of sugar and use it more efficiently than normal body cells do. Researchers have found a strong link between cancer and sugar consumption. Similarly, fructose, which is an important part of processed sweets and soda, also feeds the cancerous cells in the body, and limiting its intake can help disrupt the growth of the cancer cells in the body.

Reducing the intake of these foods will not only help you stay healthy but also lower your risk of developing cancer. Therefore, reducing or avoiding the intake of these foods is recommended.