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Hidden Carcinogens Lurking in Your Favorite Foods

carcinogens in popular foods

There are the obvious sources of carcinogens out there (like cigarettes), and then there are the not so obvious ones. Food manufacturers don’t exactly go around broadcasting this stuff because, well, you might not eat as many of their products. Whether you do or don’t is of course your decision, but being informed about those choices is key. Here are some common foods with not so great, potentially cancer causing carcinogens lurking in them.

Microwave Popcorn

carcinogens in popular foods

Air popped corn kernels are totally safe to eat, but once you throw the microwaveable bag into the popcorn mix things can get a little ugly. Those convenient bags are lined with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (or PFOA). That chemical has been linked to increased risks of developing kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas and testicular cancers, as well as causing infertility in women. Not to mention, a lung disease inducing chemical called diacetyl is often added the popcorn itself.

Processed Meats

carcinogens in popular foods

All those lunchtime cold cuts, hot dogs, and bacon pose a carcinogenic risk as well. Processed meat requires a couple things to keep it from going bad. One is lots of salt which poses its own health risks, and the other is a lot of chemicals. Sodium nitrates are one such ingredient that turns into a carcinogen in the body.

If that wasn’t enough, any of those processed meats that are also smoked are even less healthy for you, since tar leaches into food during the smoking process. Not even smoked almonds are safe from the tar situation. Highly salted and smoked foods have been linked to increased rates of stomach and colorectal cancers.

Soda

carcinogens in popular foods

Diet sodas of course contain artificial sugars that have been linked with cancer risks, but even the regular ones are offenders. Soda is artificially colored of course, which requires the use of chemicals. Additionally, all the sugar in soda can lead to inflammation in the body which just increases your odds of developing every type of health problem.

Potato Chips

carcinogens in popular foods

Besides being an all around empty calorie, super fatty food, potato chips also contain carcinogens. During the process of making the sliced potatoes into crispy crunchy snacks, they undergo a frying process. When potatoes are fried at high temperatures they create acrylamide, which is also found in cigarettes. Plus, potato chips are full of preservatives and artificial colors and flavors.

Refined Sugar and Flour

carcinogens in popular foods

Refined sugars and flours can increase your cancer risk based on the way that they are processed by the body. Cancerous tumors actually feed on sugar in the bloodstream, so when you’re pumping your body full of the stuff you are basically just making the environment more hospitable for cancer to roam and grow freely.

Refined flours are an issue because they end up being processed like sugar in the body after they are stripped of their whole grain goodness. Additionally, the process of turning flour white requires a bleaching with chlorine gas which is irritating to the lungs and can be lethal in high amount. Delicious!

 

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About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.

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