Highly processed foods
katueng/Shutterstock We’ve long known that processed foods with an excess of sugar, sodium, saturated fats, and chemical ingredients can contribute to health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity… but cancer? According to a study by French and Brazilian researchers, a 10 percent increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a 12 percent increase in the risk of overall cancer and an 11 percent increase in breast cancer. So, what qualifies as an ultra-processed food? Things like mass-produced bread and baked goods, soda, instant noodles and soups, salty and sweet snacks, and chicken nuggets. Less-processed foods, such as pasta, canned vegetables, and freshly baked bread, weren’t found to raise cancer risks. These are the cancer-fighting superfoods you should be eating every day.
Rasyidien/Shutterstock Those perfectly darkened-to-a-crisp potatoes may not be so perfect after all—they may actually be carcinogenic. According to a study from the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), the culprit is acrylamide, a chemical that’s created when starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures. Even though a desired browned crispness may seem “natural” when cooking starches, it can potentially increase risk of cancer and possibly affect nervous and reproductive systems. Burnt or blackened starches have the highest amounts of the toxin, and darkly toasted bread is also a problem. To limit acrylamide creation and consumption, the FSA recommends cooking starches to a light-golden color instead of a dark brown.