Avoiding Carcinogens to Reduce Cancer Risk

Carcinogens are substances that cause or aggravate cancer. Though carcinogens do not lead to cancer after every exposure, some cause cancerous changes after a high level, prolonged exposure, while others cause changes after a shorter, lower level exposure period. A person’s unique genetic makeup also influence’s the body response to carcinogens.

That said, helpguide.com recommends taking the following precautions when choosing which foods to eat:

Avoid foods the appear or smell moldy

Foods the look or smell of molds may contain the substance called aflatoxin, which is a powerful liver carcinogen. Aflatoxin is commonly found in peanuts.

Do not cook oils on high heat

High-heat cooking turns oils or fats carcinogenic. Opt to replace heating and frying with boiling or steaming whenever possible.

Avoid cured, dried, and preserved meats

Nitrate and nitrite are compounds that are used to cure meat. When metabolized during curing, they turn into substances called nitrosamine. Nitrosamines are found in cured pork, bacon, sausage, and dried beef. Nitrosamines also form during the drying process when beer is made. Beers that contain the highest levels of nitrosamines are dark beers. Nitrosamines are potent carcinogens.

Grill and barbecue

When meats are burned or charred, they created substances called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). HCAs are released when creatine, a compound found in animal blood is heated HCAs are often linked to cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, though some laboratory studies suggested a connection lung and breast tumors.

A study involving more than 40,000 women found that those who consistently ate well-done meat were almost 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who eat their meat rare or medium cooled. One way to reduce HCAs in meats before barbecuing is to pre-heat them in the microwave. This dries up some of the juices and the creatine, but does not completely eliminate HCAs.

Avoid smoked foods

During the smoking process, carcinogenic substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form on the meats’ surface.

Buy organic

Whenever possible, opt for organic food products. Organic products have are free of additives and pesticides that are commonly found in commercially grown produce and processed foods. Additives and pesticides are suspected of being carcinogens. The Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) offers some tips to protect your self from food contaminants:

  • When microwaving, use waxed paper instead of plastic wrap.
  • Wash and/or peel all fruits and vegetables. Use a vegetable brush for washing to reduce pesticide residue.
  • Buy local produce whenever possible. Local produce are less likely to have been treated with chemicals that prevent spoilage, than fruits and vegetables arrive at the market from afar.

Source: helpguide.com