According to the American Cancer Society, one third of the 589,430 deaths that occur from cancer each year can be linked to poor diet, inadequate physical activity, and being overweight. Regular consumption of fried, fatty, fast foods has been found to increase the risk of prostate cancer, and experts suspect a host of other cancers may be associated as well. While some foods can raise your risk of developing cancer, others, such as certain fruits and vegetables, are known to be protective against cancer.
Although it’s easy to differentiate between fast food and fresh produce, sometimes the distinction is less clear. There are a number of dangerous chemicals lurking in everyday food items. Although some of these foods do not themselves seem detrimental to human health, they contain compounds that either directly affect DNA, or lead to rapid cell division, which causes changes in DNA. This can lead to cancer.
Although all of these chemicals are known or highly suspected carcinogens, they continue to pollute the foods we feed our families and ourselves. Many health advocacy groups have called upon large food corporations to eliminate the use of these harmful chemicals in their products. Some have lobbied the federal government, calling for a widespread ban on the use of these chemicals in food products.
For example, in February 2014, New York state senator Chuck Schumer appealed to the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of azodicarbonamide, a chemical that is used to make bread, as well as in yoga mats and shoe rubber. Schumer’s efforts were unsuccessful and the FDA maintains that this chemical is safe for human consumption. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says otherwise, citing that two byproducts of azodicarbonamide, semicarbazide, and urethane are carcinogenic.
While the FDA may not force food companies to remove these chemicals, consumers can do their part to protect their health. By learning about the carcinogens found in every day foods, you can be vigilant about which products you purchase and choose to feed your family. To help you avoid these cancer-causing chemicals, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most popular carcinogens hiding in your foods and drinks. Be sure to check all food labels and steer clear of the following dangerous chemicals.