5 Foods That Could Cause Cancer

5 Foods That Could Cause Cancer
By Valerie Banner
Are French fries dangerous? Can popcorn make you sick? Find out which foods may cause cancer.

Don’t smoke. Always wear sunscreen. Maintain a healthy weight. These types of preventative measures can protect you from approximately half of all cancers. But what about your favorite foods, like popcorn, French fries, and bacon? According to a growing body of research, what you’re eating could put you at a higher risk of developing the disease. Here, five foods that may cause cancer.

1. Fish.
Research has shown that the health benefits of eating most types of fish, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, exceeds the increased health risks that may come from consuming it. That said, certain types of fish should be avoided. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish contain the highest levels of mercury. For other seafood, the EPA recommends that a person consume no more than one serving of tuna steak or two servings of most other types of fish per week. It is particularly important that children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers follow these guidelines because unborn babies and small children are most sensitive to mercury.

2. Processed meats.
Hot dogs, lunch meats, bacon, and sausages contain sodium nitrate, an additive that preserves the color and general appearance of the product. Sodium nitrate leads to the formation of N-nitroso compounds, which are known carcinogens. In fact, a 1982 study by the University of Southern California School of Medicine found that mothers of children with brain tumors were significantly more likely to have eaten large amounts of meats containing nitrates than mothers who consumed very few cured meats. In addition, a study by the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii followed a group of people for seven years and found that those who ate the most processed meats had a 67 percent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

3. Salt.
It’s not table salt that you need to worry about; it’s the salt that’s used in preserving and pickling foods, according to the American Cancer Society. Studies have shown that increased consumption of pickled foods or foods preserved with salt is linked with cancer of the stomach, nose, and throat. As with processed meats, it’s suspected that the link is caused by large amounts of nitrites in pickled foods.

4. French fries.
When fried, potatoes release a chemical called acrylamide, which is known to cause cancer in lab animals and is considered to be a probable human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). In addition to being found in French fries, acrylamide is often in other starchy foods like potato chips, cereal, and bread. Officials in California even considered putting warning labels on foods that may contain acrylamide. However, so far, the most conclusive links between cancer and acrylamide have only been found in rats, not in humans.

5. Microwave popcorn.
The butter flavor in microwave popcorn comes from a chemical called diacetyl, which can cause serious lung and respiratory problems if an individual is around too much of it. Although most people who have gotten sick due to diacetyl exposure have worked in popcorn factories, one man developed a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans after eating two bags of microwave popcorn a day. After public outcries and even pressure from members of Congress, most companies that manufacture microwave popcorn have stopped using diacetyl in the butter flavoring.

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