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Foods that Increase Cancer Risk

Want to know which substances are the most likely to cause cancer? It’s not hard to guess.

Meat and milk products for one, tobacco for two and alcohol for three.

A new study compiling data from 157 countries by William Grant from the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Center in San Francisco identified those three factors as correlating the most strongly with cancer.

If you eat animal products – meat, fowl, dairy and eggs – you’re at higher risk of breast, ovarian, pancreatic, thyroid and prostate cancer, among others. Your risk of developing lung cancer also increases.  There is also a link between consuming heme iron, found only in red meat, that can increase your risk of heart disease by 57%.

Smoking however, accounts for almost a quarter of all cancer deaths and 71 percent of lung cancer deaths. Drinking alcoholic beverages raises your risk of contracting colorectal cancer, although that’s the only form.

Another everyday hazard? Artificial sweeteners. They correlated with higher risks for brain cancer in women and pancreatic and prostate cancers.

About 30 percent of cancer deaths can be attributed to five behavioral and dietary risks: obesity, not eating enough fruit and vegetables, not exercising enough, smoking and drinking, according to the World Health Organization.

If you want to know how to boost your chances for a longer, healthier life, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends the obvious. Cut down on processed and red meats, eat more plants – nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables – and avoid sugar. You might as well throw in get more exercise, as well.

There you have it in a nutshell. Time to get going on our healthful food choices.

Pamela Hasterok
Sources: Roxanne Nelson of, “Nutrients.”