6 Foods That May Increase Your Risk of Cancer

Cancer is a highly intricate illness. There is a wide variety of malignancies, each with its own set of possible causes. A number of factors have been linked to cancer, and while we don’t have all the answers, we do know that it can be caused by a number of different things.

DNA and family history are important factors. But things you can change, like your living habits, have an even greater effect. Scientific studies have found that environmental variables contribute to 80-90% of malignant tumors.

The way you eat is one of the most influential parts of your daily life. That’s because numerous studies have linked specific meals to an increased risk of cancer.

In this post, we’ll examine the scientific evidence about the possible links between certain meals and beverages and an increased risk of cancer.

Foods that may increase your cancer risk

Type 2 diabetes and obesity are both linked to an increased risk of developing some cancers; some diets may exacerbate this risk. The carcinogens found in several other foods have been linked to cancer in humans.

However, not all cases of cancer are caused by carcinogen exposure. Both the dose and duration of exposure to the carcinogen play a role.

In light of this, let’s examine the findings of the scientific literature regarding the foods that have been linked to an increased risk of developing certain cancers.

1. Processed meats

Sliced Sausage Cooked in a Pan

Meats that have been preserved through processes such as smoking, salting, curing, or canning are all considered processed meats. Red meats are the primary component of processed meats. Here are several processed red meats to consider:

sausages and buns




Salted beef


Carcinogens can be produced during the processing of meats that are later utilized in prepared meals. An article published in 2018 claims that N-nitroso compounds, which are carcinogenic, can be produced when meat is cured with nitrite. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which might cause cancer, are also produced when meat is smoked (PAHs).

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A 2019 research found that eating processed beef significantly increased one’s risk of developing colorectal cancer. Another 2019 study confirmed the association with stomach cancer.

Researchers reviewed the evidence in 2018, and they found that eating a lot of processed meat raises your risk of developing breast cancer.

2. Fried foods

Delicious homemade fish and chips with coleslaw and lemon garnish.
Basket of Onion Rings-Photographed on Hasselblad H3D2-39mb Camera

Acrylamide is a chemical generated when starchy foods are cooked at very high temperatures. It’s possible for this to occur during any high heat cooking method.

A high level of acrylamide is typically seen in fried starchy meals. French fries, potato chips, and other fried potato snacks fall into this category.

Cancer-causing effects of acrylamide in rats were reported in a review published in 2018. It is “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

A study from 2020 found that exposure to acrylamide causes DNA damage and cell death through a process called apoptosis.

Many studies have shown that eating a diet high in fried foods can increase the likelihood that a person will develop type 2 diabetes and/or become overweight. Your risk of developing cancer may rise even higher if you also have these illnesses.

3. Overcooked foods

Fried chicken in a pan, chicken legs

Overcooking causes carcinogens to form in meals, especially in meats. Intense heat during cooking results in the formation of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines, according to an article published in 2020. (HCAs). These chemicals may cause DNA damage, which might raise the likelihood of developing cancer.

When cooking with high heat or an open flame, it’s easy to overcook food. Methods of preparation such as




Starchy foods, such as potatoes, produce more acrylamide when cooked past their optimal doneness, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

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The formation of carcinogens during cooking at high temperatures can be avoided by employing safer cooking methods, such as:


Putting Food Under Pressure

Low-temperature baking/roasting

the use of a slow cooker or crock pot.

4. Dairy

Some studies suggest that consuming dairy products can raise your risk of developing prostate cancer. Ingredients from milk and other sources are used to make dairy foods like:




The levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 are found to rise in people who consume dairy products, as reported in a systematic review published in 2014. (IGF-1). Increased risk of prostate cancer is observed in conjunction with this. It’s possible that IGF-1 promotes the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells.

5. Sugar and refined carbohydrates

Turkish delicious food on table

Refined carbohydrates and added sugars have been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer. These foods include, for instance:

sweetened drinks

Foods prepared in an oven

The white stuff, pasta

Plain bread

Plain rice

grains high in sugar.

Type 2 diabetes and obesity are two conditions that may be exacerbated by a diet high in sugary and starchy foods. A research paper published in 2020 found that both diseases increase oxidative stress and inflammation. It’s possible that this could boost your risk for developing cancer.

A 2019 research found that people with type 2 diabetes had a higher chance of developing breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers.

In addition to raising the risk of colon cancer, a diet heavy in sugar and refined carbohydrates has been linked in a 2017 study to elevated blood sugar levels.

Substitute healthier options like these for refined carb-heavy foods to lessen their negative impact on your health:

the bread is made with whole grains

Dried pasta made from whole grains

brow rice


6. Alcohol

The liver processes ethanol into acetaldehyde, a carcinogenic molecule, after ingestion.

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Acetaldehyde, according to a paper published in 2017, can increase DNA damage and oxidative stress. Furthermore, it hinders your immune system’s ability to destroy malignant and precancerous cells.

According to research published in 2015, drinking alcohol raises estrogen levels in women. An increased danger of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer has been shown in association with this.

Can some foods lower your risk of cancer?

It has been theorized by scientists that certain meals contain chemicals that can help lower cancer risks. Examples of such foods are:

Fruits and vegetables

Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, a 2017 analysis found. These chemicals are helpful in preventing cellular damage and oxidative stress.


Nuts may help reduce inflammation and cancer risk, according to a study published in 2015.


Fiber-rich beans. Research from 2015 suggests that fiber may help lower colon cancer risks.

Whole grains

A review from 2020 found that consuming whole grains was connected with a reduced risk of cancer. Quinoa and brown rice are two examples of whole grains that are high in fiber and antioxidants.


Omega-3 fatty acids are a beneficial lipid that can be found in fish. A study conducted in 2014 found that omega-3 fats may reduce the risk of certain malignancies by inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells.

The bottom line

Certain types of cancer may be exacerbated by eating processed meat, foods that have been overdone, or foods that have been fried. This is because there is concern that some foods contain carcinogenic chemicals.

When digested, alcohol turns into carcinogens. The use of dairy products, sugar, and refined carbohydrates has been linked to an increased risk of developing some cancers.

Limiting your intake of these items and adopting healthier practices can help lower your risk of developing cancer. Cancer-fighting diets, regular exercise, and stress reduction are all part of a healthy lifestyle.

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