Foods And Drinks Known To Cause Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide by the World Health Organization. According to the statistics provided on the WHO official website, around 9 million people died because of cancer in 2018. According to the experts, the sudden spike in cancer is an unhealthy lifestyle and poor eating habits. From adulterated fresh food products to packaged food, all these food items create a disbalance in our body and cause many serious health issues. 

Consuming healthy food items to provide essential nutrients for your body to thrive is not only crucial for gut and dental health, but it can also help in reducing your chances of developing cancer. Listed below are food items that can cause cancer in the human body.

Cancer-Causing Food and Drinks

Processed Meat

According to the reports by the World Health Organization (WHO), processed meat can cause cancer. It is a Group 1 carcinogen, which means it is connected explicitly to stomach and colorectal cancer. Some processed meats food items containing carcinogenic properties are ham, hotdogs, sausages, beef jerky, corned beef, canned meat, and lunch meat.

Alternatives of processed meat

White meat and white fish such as turkey, tofu, seitan, or Quorn (meat substitute). 

Red Meat

Red meat is marginally better than processed meat for the human body. It is a Group 2A, which means it is probably a carcinogen for the human body. The most powerful link between cancer and consuming red meat is colorectal cancer. However, there is much evidence that can link red meat to prostate and pancreatic cancer. Cancer Council has recommended reducing the amount of red meat each week.

Alternatives Of Red Meat 

Beans, white meat, and white fish instead of red meat.


Many people occasionally enjoy drinking alcohol, whereas some consume it regularly. However, many medical experts have stated you should reduce the intake of alcohol as much as possible. Alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen. The types of cancer due to alcohol consumption are bowel cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, esophagus cancer, throat cancer, and mouth cancer. 

The risk of developing cancer with alcohol is associated with the amount of alcohol you consume. For example, drinking one glass of red wine with your meal now and then has no adverse effect on your body compared to consuming several units of alcohol in one night. Many studies have suggested that a moderate amount of red wine can cause lower mortality and reduce the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease. 

Salted Fish

Salting is an ancient method in China and Southeast Asia to preserve food items, especially fish. This technique of preserving food can produce carcinogenic by-products, which means that this technique can cause cancer in our bodies. Salted fish is a Group 1 carcinogen, which can cause stomach and colorectal cancer, similar to processed meat.

Alternatives Of Salted Fish 

Seafood or fresh fish such as squid, mussels, or prawns.

Sugary Drinks Or Non-Diet Soda

Obesity is one of the significant risk factors in several types of cancer, and hence it becomes essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight. Achieving a balanced diet and lifestyle that will incorporate all the food groups becomes essential. Regular consumption of sugary drinks can cause weight gain, which can lead to obesity. 

Processed Food And Fast Food

We are limiting the consumption of processed food and fast food, which carries a high amount of fat, sugar, and starches, as these food items help in calorie intake and can cause an imbalance in your lifestyle and journey to a healthy weight. 

Alternatives Of Fast And Processed Food

Whole-grain bread with homemade sandwiches, salads, or sushi. 

Overcooked Food

Cooking your food at a high temperature can produce very harmful components like advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) and heterocyclic amines (HA). For example, barbecue, broiling, sautéing, frying, and grilling. Excess amounts of these harmful components, called AGEs and HA, can contribute to developing inflammation and can also develop the risk of cancer and other significant diseases. 

Certain food items, such as animal food and processed food, high in protein and fat, are most likely to produce harmful components when in contact with high temperatures, for example, red meat, cheeses, butter, cream cheese, nuts, oils, mayonnaise, fried eggs, and margarine. 

To minimize cancer risk, start avoiding overcooked or burned food, and choose gentle cooking methods, especially when preparing meat items, such as boiling, stewing, or steaming.

Being Overweight Or Obese Is Linked To Increased Cancer Risk

Other than alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and infections, being obese or overweight is the single factor causing cancer worldwide. It can increase your risk of developing 13 different kinds of cancer, such as breast cancer (after menopause), kidney cancer, pancreas cancer, colon cancer, and esophagus cancer. In the United States of America, the weight problem is accountable for 20% and 14% of all cancer-related deaths in women and men, respectively.

Obesity or overweight can increase your risk of developing cancer in three ways:

  • The excessive body fat present in our body can contribute to insulin resistance. And the result being, our body cells slowly become unable to observe glucose properly.
  • Obese and overweight individuals tend to have high inflammatory cytokines present in their blood, leading to chronic inflammation and increased body cells to divide. 
  • Fat cells can increase estrogen levels, increasing women’s risk and chances of developing ovarian and breast cancer after menopause.

The good news is, several studies have proven that weight loss among obese and overweight people can likely reduce their risk of suffering from cancer. 


Though no superfood can help prevent cancer in the human body, some evidence has stated that dietary and eating habits can protect against various cancer types. A diet containing vegetables, fruits, healthy fat, lean protein, and whole grains can prevent developing cancer. 

However, alcohol, processed meats, salt, and refined carbs will tend to increase your chances. Although there is no scientific evidence that any diet can cure cancer, a plant-based diet can lower your risk or benefit your treatment. Generally, people who have cancer are encouraged to adopt a healthy and balanced diet, which will help preserve the quality of life and support optimum health results.