A wrong diet can increase the risk of getting cancer: some foods, in fact, contain substances considered harmful, such as refined sugars or chemical preservatives. Then, let’s find out which foods to avoid to reduce the risk of cancer.
Healthy eating is not only a question of fat and calories, eating well also means reducing the risk of getting cancer, in fact, at least one third of cancer cases could be avoided if we eat properly. There is not just one food that can be considered a cause or a cancer, but some foods, for the substances they contain, the additives used to preserve them or the methods used for their cooking, are associated with a higher probability of getting cancer. Then let’s discover which foods increase the risk of cancer, so as to prevent the danger of developing a neoplasm and consciously choose a healthy diet, eliminating the consumption of foods considered harmful.
1. Red meat and treated meat that increase the production of free radicals
Red meat: beef, sheep, pig, horse and goat, all these meats would encourage the development of tumors. This is confirmed both by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and by the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF): in 2015 a direct link between red meat and colorectal cancer was identified. The advice is to limit consumption to no more than 300-500 grams per week. It is in fact an highly oxidizing food, which increases the production of free radicals that cause inflammation of the skin and have a carcinogenic effect: it is important not to cook it at high temperatures, which favor the production of harmful substances.
It is also advisable to avoid treated or cured meats, such as sausages, mortadella or in any case all those meats that undergo a process of transformation and are then dried, smoked or treated with preservatives to improve their preservation or taste. Nitrite and nitrate, which are used for the production of sausages, are especially dangerous. Processed meats have been associated by IARC with the risks of stomach and colorectal cancer. Attention also to meat fillings that may contain monosodium glutamate which could lead to the death of neural or nervous cells.
2. Refined flour: it increases blood sugar levels
Refined flour, or white flour is used for the preparation of many packaged foods. It is a product that contains an excessive level of carbohydrates: the excessive and regular consumption of refined flour is associated with the increase in cases of breast cancer. This food has also a high glycemic index that increases blood sugar levels, promoting the development of cancer cells. The advice, therefore, is to prefer whole grains and prepare some foods at home, avoiding those treated or breaded. 00 type flour would increase insulin, blood sugar and growth factors, all elements which would encourage the possibility of cancer.
3. Refined sugar and carbonated beverages which increase insulin
Even refined sugar, or white sugar, increases insulin and therefore the possibility of developing cancer cells in our body. Beware of foods that contain corn syrup and fructose, especially biscuits, packaged fruit juices, sauces, pastries, soft drinks and breakfast cereals. Do not underestimate the danger of artificial sweeteners, often used instead of sugar: regular consumption of these sweeteners can cause weight gain and make it difficult to regulate blood sugar levels. They also contain aspartame, a chemical that is considered to be carcinogenic and therefore to be avoided. To better sweeten use stevia or organic honey. Even the drinks contain a high amount of sugar, the same applies to "light" drinks, they are also rich in chemical additives, dyes, etc … The carbonated drinks acidify the body and they work as food for cancer cells.
4. Alcohol: it increases the risk of breast and liver cancer
Alcohol is among the foods most associated with cancer, in particular it promotes the development of breast and liver cancer, as well as stomach and colon cancer. Among the new WCRF recommendations, there is precisely that of eliminating alcohol at all, while about ten years ago it was only recommended to limit consumption. If you just can not do without wine or beer, do not exceed 20 grams per day, for men, which corresponds to 2 glasses, choosing a wine of medium gradation, and 10 grams for women, that is a glass a day. Keep in mind that a glass of wine contains the amount of alcohol in a 40ml glass of a liqueur and a can of beer.
5. Salt and canned foods preserved with the use of salt: they can cause stomach cancer
Regarding salt, the advice is to limit consumption to 5 grams per day, that is 1 teaspoon, minimizing the consumption of food in brine, that is preserved in a solution of water and cooking salt, and food processed with the salt, like raw ham: 100 grams of product contain more salt than we can consume in a whole day. Regarding canned foods, the problem of endocrine disruptors such as bisphenol A has recently emerged, considered a risk factor for some cancers, even if there are no indications yet. However, the WCRF recommends avoiding all foods stored in salt, preferring those that do not use this method such as freezing, drying, fermentation.
6. Hydrogenated oils: they decrease the body's immune response
Hydrogenated oils are used for the preservation of treated foods, to keep them stable. The most common foods that contain them are margarine, ice cream, fast food or packaged foods. These fats alter the structure of the cell membranes of the body causing debilitating diseases, including cancer, also because they decrease the body's immune response. Although in many products they are replaced with alternatives considered safer, there are still many foods that contain them. Before buying a product, make sure that no trans fats are included in the nutritional information.
Which are the foods that protect us from cancer?
To prevent cancer it is advisable to base your diet on foods of vegetable origin and unrefined foods. So just prefer whole grains, legumes, vegetables, blue fish, all typical foods of the Mediterranean diet. Tomato, for example, contains lycopene, a substance that protects us from cancer. To carry out this important protective action there are also broccoli, cabbage, green beans, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, legumes, asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, while among the fruit we find apricots, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, melon, watermelon, blueberries . In addition, garlic, onion, leek and shallot help stabilize the DNA of healthy cells, carrying out a preventive action especially against cancer of the esophagus and stomach.