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High-Processed Foods That Increase Your Risk Of Cancer
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High-Processed Foods That Increase Your Risk Of Cancer

Many Canadians are affected by Cancer yearly.   It is the leading cause of mortality in Canada, with an estimated 43% of the population being diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.  

Researchers estimated that as many as 233,900 Canadians would be diagnosed with cancer in 2022, and an additional 85,100 would lose their lives to the disease. In fact, cancer accounts for 28.2% of all fatalities each year in Canada.  


Likewise, in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute, the average American has a 39.3 % chance of developing cancer over their lifetime. Numerous studies have found one’s diet is a major modifiable risk factor for cancer. Many cancer-causing foods are incorporated normally and regularly in what we eat. While there is no danger in minimal intake, too much is never good. 

In this article, you will learn about the high-processed foods that increase your cancer risk, so make sure you read until the end. 

What Are High Processed Foods? 

“Highly processed foods” refers to meals and drinks that have been processed or prepared and added an excessive amount of sodium, carbohydrates, or saturated fat to people’s diets. These foods are heavily modified and subjected to several additional procedures, such as extrusion, molding, and milling, and they may contain many additional ingredients. 


According to British Medical Journal (BMJ), ultra-processed foods lack vitamins and fiber and have high sugar, fat, and salt concentrations.  In many wealthy nations, they can account for as much as 50 percent of an individual’s total daily calorie consumption. These kinds of foods are frequently implicated as cancer-causing foods and count for the development of obesity as well. 

Examples of high-processed foods include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Hamburgers and French fries as well as other fast foods 
  • Cakes and muffins as well as other baked products 
  • Frozen treats, such as ice cream 
  • Spreads and sweeteners like syrups and jams  
  • Candies and chocolate  
  • Chips and pretzels  
  • Sauces and dressings 
  • Sugary or frizzy drinks 

We will be delving deeper into why these foods are considered cancer-causing foods in the posts below. 

Is Processed Food Linked To Cancer? 

According to the findings of a study that was released in 2019 and published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), there may be a connection between “ultra-processed” foods and cancer.  


Moreover, the study found that eating 11% more ultra-processed foods was connected with a 12% higher chance of developing cancer, with breast cancer being the most afflicted. These results support previous research that indicates a correlation between an unhealthy diet, being overweight or obese, and an increased likelihood of developing cancer.  

There is also a correlation between eating red or processed meat and colon cancer. This cancer-causing food is just one of 12 different malignancies linked to the diet, often called a “Western type” diet. 

What Are The 5 Cancer-Causing Foods? 

Sugar and refined carbohydrates, overcooked foods, dairy products, fried foods, and processed meats are some of the most common high-processed foods that are linked to cancer. 

Carcinogens, or compounds with the potential to cause cancer, can be found in these foods. However, it should be noted that not all people who are exposed to carcinogens develop cancer. Both the dose and duration of exposure to the carcinogen play a role.  

Keeping this in mind, let’s look at what researchers have discovered about the links between highly processed foods. 

Sugar And Refined Carbohydrates 

The consumption of sugary and refined carbohydrate-containing foods has been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer as well as type 2 diabetes and obesity.  


A 2020 research, showed that the two disorders are linked to increased inflammation and oxidative stress.  That being said, according to 2019 analysis, having type 2 diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of ovarian, breast, and endometrial or uterine cancer.  

Heavy blood glucose levels, which may be caused by a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, were also found to be associated with an increased risk of colon cancer in a study published in 2017. 

Examples of high-processed foods with sugar and refined carbohydrates are 

  • Breakfast cereals high in sugar 
  • White pasta, white rice, and white bread 
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages 
  • Baked goods 

Overcooked Foods 

Meats, in particular, can create carcinogens when overcooked. One 2020 article claims that cooking meat at a high temperature produces carcinogenic PAHs and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Changing the DNA of your cells, these substances may raise your risk of developing cancer.  


High temperatures or an open flame are more likely to cause you to overcook meals. This covers grilling, barbecuing, and pan-frying. Additionally, according to the Food and Drug Administration, overcooking starchy foods like potatoes causes more acrylamide to develop.  

What you can do instead is to try cooking techniques, including poaching, pressure cooking, baking, or roasting at lower temperatures, as well as slow cooking to limit your risk of exposure to carcinogens from high-heat cooking. 

Dairy Product 

There is some evidence to suggest that increased consumption of dairy may raise the risk of prostate cancer. A review that was conducted in 2014 found that consuming dairy products raises levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 or IGF-1.  


IGF-1 may also cause prostate cancer cells to multiply more quickly, which is also known as proliferation. Products such as the following are classified as dairy foods:  

  • Milk 
  • Cheese 
  • Yogurt 

Fried Foods 

Fried foods, especially those that are starchy, have an especially high acrylamide content. This includes potato items such as french fries and potato chips that have been deep-fried. 


Research conducted on rats published in 2018 showed that acrylamide was a carcinogenic substance. According to some experts, such may be true for humans as well.  In another study conducted on 2020, Acrylamide showed to cause apoptosis, often known as cell death and causes DNA damage.  

Aside from that, as mentioned consuming a large quantity of fried food is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity. These circumstances can increase your exposure to oxidative stress and inflammation, raising your chance of developing cancer. 

Processed Meats 

Any cut of meat that has been preserved by a process such as smoking, salting, curing, or canning is referred to as processed meat. The majority of processed meats are made from red meat.  


Carcinogens may be produced during the processing of meats.  For instance, according to a piece of research published in 2018, the process of preserving meat with nitrite can result in the formation of carcinogens known as N-nitroso compounds. Carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are another potential byproduct of smoking meat.  

A study that was conducted in 2019 also found that eating processed meat is one of the primary causes of colorectal cancer. Another study carried out in the same year also came to the conclusion that there is a connection between it and stomach cancer. 

The following cancer-causing foods, including kinds of red meat, are all examples of processed varieties:  

  • Corned beef and beef jerky 
  • Hot dogs 
  • Sausages 
  • Salami 
  • Ham 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Are The Top Causes Of Cancer? 

Smoking, radiation, viruses, cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), cancer-causing foods, obesity, hormones, chronic inflammation, and a lack of exercise can trigger gene alterations and lead to cancer.  

Can Stress Cause Cancer? 

While numerous studies have demonstrated that stress can cause cancer to grow and spread in rodents, no studies have found a strong link between stress and cancer outcomes in humans. However, studying stress in people is hard because of difficulties in identifying and measuring stress. 

Why Do Healthy People Get Cancer? 

Genetics and some environmental or behavioral factors are the primary causes. Some types of cancer are thought to be inherited, which means that the genes you were born with may have a propensity to cancer. 

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