Top 5 Cancer Causing Foods and Top 5 Cancer Fighting Foods

red meat

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Cancer is a very complex disease that is caused by numerous factors. Some of them are out of your control, such as genetics, but most of them, such as diet, activity levels, stress levels, smoking, and drinking are well within your control.

In fact, your diet is probably one of the biggest factors that you can control and greatly reduce your risk of cancer. In fact, studies show that of the almost 570,000 cancer deaths that happened in 2010, one third was due to poor nutrition, being overweight, or a lack of exercise, all of which could have been prevented.

Everyone has heard the old “eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies” to help stop cancer, but knowing which fruits and veggies are best at stopping cancer, as well as which foods to avoid, is equally as important.

First let’s look at the top 5 foods you need to avoid if you want to outsmart cancer.


1. Red Meat

Although you don’t have to avoid all red meat, there is an awful lot of evidence that shows that a diet rich in red meats greatly increases your risk of cancer. One study done over a 10 year period found that eating red meat every day (such as a hamburger for lunch or a steak for dinner) increased a woman’s risk of cancer by 20 percent and a man’s risk of dying from cancer by 22 percent. Other research studies show that eating a lot of red meat can lead to an increased risk of colon, prostate, and breast cancer.

In two very large studies done in 2005, one conducted in the US and the other conducted in Europe, showed that those who ate 5 ounces of red meat per day were about 1/3 more likely to develop colon cancer than those who ate less than 1 ounce per day, on average. The European study involved almost a half a million people. They also found that consumption of chicken did not seem to make a difference one way to the other, but that a high consumption of fish seemed to reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as one third.

The study done in the US contained some vital information about the long term effects of the consumption of red meat. This study involved more than 148,000 subjects between the ages of 50 and 74, and it found that those who at large amounts of processed meats and red meat was linked with a vast increase in the risk of cancer of the rectum and the lower part of the colon.

These studies don’t stand alone, however. There are numerous studies that show this same link. If you want to have red meat, always buy organic, grass fed, antibiotic free, hormone free beef. It’s worth every penny you pay for it.

Sweet Potato Fries

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2. Fried Foods

This is a hard one because they taste so good but potato chips, fried chicken, fried onion rings, fried zucchini, and the famous French fries have high levels of acrylamide, a well-known carcinogen that forms when foods are subjected to the very high temperatures of frying. This cancerous substance can form in just about anything fried at temperatures of over 250 degrees but French fries and potato chips have been found to contain the highest amounts of this substance.

Prolonged exposure to, or consumption of, acrylamide causes multiple tumors in animal’s studies. The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists acrylamide as a “probably human carcinogen.”

The National Cancer Institute, the Food and Agricultural Organization, along with the World Health Organization all state that acrylamide in foods are a major concern and more studies should be done. You should especially avoid foods (especially meats) that have been fried to the point that they are charred. (Sometimes called blackened) This is another well known carcinogen that causes stomach and pancreatic cancer. See more how fried foods are killing you.

Several types of white sugar - refined sugar and granulated sugar

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3. Sugar

Especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup. You have probably already heard that sugar is what cancer cells feed upon and even though all cells need glucose to grow, cancer cells seem to use sugar in greater quantities, and more efficiently, than healthy cells. Numerous research studies show that there is a strong link between sugar consumption and the development of cancer.

In fact, studies show that women who ate foods that had high glycemic levels were more than 3 times as likely to develop colon cancer. Eating foods high in sugar have been linked to cancer of the uterus, breast, pancreas, urinary tract, even skin cancer. One recent study showed that fructose, the sugar typically found in candy and soda, seems to feed cancer cells even more than glucose does.

In this study, researchers gave both fructose and glucose to pancreatic cancer cells in lab tests and found that while the cells given glucose did well and grew, the ones that were given fructose as food grew faster, multiplied and greatly increased their proliferation.

So if you want to eliminate cancer causing foods in your diet, this is one is a no brainer. Avoid sugar, especially foods that contain fructose, and high fructose corn syrup.

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

4. Processed Foods

When we speak of processed foods we are talking about all those foods in boxes and bags such as boxed meals, frozen meals, meals in a bag (just add meat!). All these commercially prepared foods, while they are convenient, contain many toxic ingredients and chemicals such as artificial flavors, colors, excessive salt, sugar, aspartame, and fats to make them taste good and for preservation. These types of additives are constantly being researched and studied and for good reason. Most of these additives contain things that are carcinogens. Foods that are heavily salted, for example, increases the risk of stomach cancer. Artificial colors have long been shown to cause cancer in studies done on mice and rats. By the way, do you know why mice and rats are usually used in these studies? Because their digestive systems as nearly identical to ours. Also, because their lifespans are short, they metabolize diseases faster.

alcohol drinks

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5. Excessive Alcohol

Right up there with smoking is the cancer risk that is associated with excessive drinking. We don’t mean only those who go on those weekend drinking binges every weekend or alcoholics, we mean anything more than one drink per day for women and two per day for men.

The more alcohol you consume over time, the higher your risk is of developing an alcohol related cancer. The American Cancer Society says that excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of liver cancer, mouth cancer, bowel cancer, breast cancer, and throat cancer.

Now you are probably saying “Wasn’t there studies that showed that some alcoholic drinks are good for you, like red wine?” It’s true that a compound in red wine, called resveratrol, has some anti-cancer properties, but as is true of most things in life, moderation is the key. You can’t get away with drinking a bottle of red wine every night and think that this is good for you.

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

Yes, there are considerably more things that cause cancer including fast food, cigarettes, soda, and donuts, but these are some of the top 5 you should avoid.

Now, let’s take a look at the top 5 anti-cancer foods that greatly reduce your risk of certain types of cancers.


1. Garlic

Ok, so this won’t make you the most kissable person in town, but there are plenty of worse things in this world, isn’t there?

Several large studies have discovered that those who eat more garlic on a regular basis are much less likely to develop certain cancers, especially cancer of the stomach, colon, and throat cancer. The active ingredients in these strong smelling bulbs seem to top the cancer causing compounds in your body from becoming active, or at least stop them from multiplying. Although many experts agree that garlic is good for your heart and can prevent cancer, the exact amount you should eat seems to be debatable. For best health, buy fresh, organic garlic. Crush about two cloves per day and swallow them whole. You can also add garlic to almost anything you are cooking. If the taste of garlic just doesn’t seem to be your cup of tea, you can always buy garlic supplements.


Photo credit: bigstock

2. Berries

For a sweet treat, it’s hard to beat berries of all kind. Their juicy sweetness might just be Mother Nature’s way to enticing us to eat more of these natural cancer fighters. Berries are loaded with powerful antioxidants that stop free radicals from damaging our DNA and cells. Free radicals are what cause us to age and to develop chronic diseases, so anything that kills them off is a good place to start. Berries also keep cancers from growing or spreading further.

So as part of your anti-cancer strategy, buy organic berries and use them in everything you can. Eating them raw or adding them to smoothies and yogurt are probably the most popular ways to consume them, but any way you make them, they will still fight cancer in your body. By the way, all berries have these anti-cancer compounds; strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, boysenberries, and black berries. If it says “berry” it’s a sure winner in your fight against cancer.

Transparent cup of green tea with lime on wooden background

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3. Green Tea

This tea contains an important anti-cancer compound called catechins. They fight free radicals from damaging cells and lab studies show that they shrink tumors and even reduce their growth rate. Some studies have used human subjects and they show that drinking green tea leads to a lower risk of developing cancer. Although black tea also contains catechins, green tea has a much higher level of antioxidants.

The flavonoids in green tea have been shown in studies to stop, or least slow, the development of cancer in the liver, breast, colon, and prostate. Other studies have shown that green tea has had similar types of protective effects with lung, skin, and cancers of the digestive system.

Other studies that were done in Asia have shown the regular consumption of green tea is linked to a lower risk of bladder, esophageal, pancreas, and colon cancers. Read more about how green tea reduces the risk of cancer.

Always brew your green tea fresh. The bottles and cans you see at the stores have been processed and contain almost no health benefits whatsoever.

Healthy green vegetable juice on wooden table

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4. Cruciferous Vegetables

Many research studies have shown that the consumption of cruciferous veggies, such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, endive, and broccoli, lower the risk of several types of cancers including colon, rectal, stomach, and ovarian cancer. Cruciferous veggies are a great source of glucosinolates, which have vitamin K and other types of anti-cancer properties. In fact, vitamin K has been shown to be very effective at reducing the risk of pancreatic cancers.

Cruciferous vegetables also contain powerful antioxidants which can also protect your body from the damage that free radicals cause. They also protect your from cancer causing toxic chemicals, slow the overall growth of cancerous tumors, and encourage cancer cell death.

It’s no wonder we are constantly reminded by our mothers, as well as doctors and health officials, to eat as many veggies as we can. For the best health benefits, always buy organic and try to eat at least one cruciferous veggie every day.

Cherry tomatoes on the vine,garlic and basil

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5. Tomatoes

Yep, the lowly tomato is a super fantastic cancer fighter. Recent research studies show that eating tomatoes can help protect men from the devastating effects of prostate cancer. These beautiful red gems can protect the DNA in your cells from the type of damage that allows cancer to grow. Tomatoes contain high amounts of special type of antioxidant called lycopene. Your body actually absorbs this antioxidant more easily from processed tomatoes such as sauces or juice. Always make your own tomato sauce and juice from organic tomatoes at home, rather than buy them commercially to avoid unwanted ingredients such as sugar and salt.

Even a modest intake of tomato juice provides the body with important carotenoids, which fight inflammation. Drinking raw tomato juice lowers inflammation in the body by as much as 30 percent when consumed regularly over a 30 day period.

The regular consumption of tomatoes, including cooked, sauces, raw, and juices, are consistently associated with a lower risk of cancer as well as heart disease. So that marinara sauce you thinking about for Sunday’s dinner is better for you than you ever imagined!

Refer to this list often and keep it in mind when planning your meals. Never eat cancer causing foods or drinks and always eat your greens!


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