Foods to Avoid to Reduce your Risk of Cancer

Our goal is not only to make you look your best but feel your best and live a long and healthy life. There are a lot of foods you can eat that may help you lose weight, but also can be damaging to your DNA, cause inflammation, heart disease and increase your risk of colorectal, breast or ovarian cancer.  


In honor of Stand Up to Cancer Day we are sending the top five foods to avoid if you want to reduce your cancer risk.  Does this mean never having them?  No, we never say "never" to any food- but we do ask that you limit the following foods as much as possible to ensure you live a long and healthy life!


In Good Health,

Robyn, Megan & the Sugar Snap Shift Team

1) PROCESSED MEAT- Meat that has been processed is any kind that has been preserved by salting, smoking curing, or canning.


The World Health Organization (WHO)’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared that consumption of processed meat is “definitely carcinogenic to humans" and has classified it as Group I - the same group as tobacco.


Examples include-

  • hot dogs
  • salami
  • pork and turkey bacon
  • sausage
  • ham

Preserving meats with nitrites can form carcinogens called N-nitroso compounds. To reduce your risk, look for nitrate-free brands like Applegate Farms. Smoking meat can also lead to carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) so limit your consumption of smoked meats.


2. FRIED FOODS- Any food cooked in oil at a high temperature.

When starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures, a compound called acrylamide is formed. High levels of acrylamide increase your risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.

Fried starchy foods like French fries and potato chips are especially high in acrylamide. According to a 2020 study, acrylamide damages DNA and induces cell death.

Eating a lot of fried food also increases your risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity. These conditions can promote oxidative stress and inflammation, further increasing your cancer risk.


Overcooking foods, especially meats, can produce carcinogens. According to one 2020 article, cooking meat with high heat creates Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). HCAs and PAHs have been found to cause changes in DNA that increase the risk of cancer.

To reduce your risk when grilling, barbecuing or pan-frying food do not char or over-cook it.



Intake of Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates can increase your overall risk of cancer due to inflammation and oxidative stress. Some examples of these foods include:

  • sugar-sweetened beverages
  • baked goods
  • white pasta
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • sugary cereals

Eating a high concentration of sugary, starchy foods leads to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, promoting inflammation and oxidative stress and increasing your risk of certain types of cancer.



When you drink, your liver breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, a carcinogenic compound.

Acetaldehyde promotes DNA damage and oxidative stress. It also interferes with your immune function, making it difficult for your body to target precancerous and cancerous cells.


6. RED MEAT: This includes Beef, Veal, Pork (all kinds- including pork loin) and Lamb.

The IARC classifies red meat as a Group 2A carcinogen, which is described as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’. Research shows that consumption of red meat is linked to increased risk of colon, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

A serving size of red meat is about three ounces or the size of a deck of cards. To reduce your risk eat it only occasionally (2-3 times a month), as part of a mostly plant-based diet.

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