Cancer Causing Foods to Avoid – Part I: Processed Foods

While we promote focusing on the foods we should eat in our book, The Cancer Answer, we do feel it’s worth mentioning foods to avoid in order to stay healthy. Some may be pretty obvious, but others are a bit insidious in how they affect one’s body. Our advice is to think in moderation rather than absolutes. It’s crazy to never indulge in a treat now and then or to eat kale each and every day. For one thing, it’s boring. But more importantly, your body needs a variety of nutrients, which will come from a variety of sources. The expression “variety is the spice of life” applies here.

However, another apt saying is “knowledge is power.” If you don’t know what could potentially cause cancer to grow, you might inadvertently shovel the wrong foods into your mouth every day and not know that you’re aiding and abetting the subtle demise of your body.

So, we’re penning a new series called “Cancer Causing Foods to Avoid,” where we’ll delve into foods to watch out for. This will by no means be a complete list. We just felt it was important to warn you away from the worst offenders.

To kick off this series, we are going to tackle processed foods. Now, this is a bit of a generalized catch-phrase. What makes a food “processed”? Well, anything that has undergone some sort of process from its original state could be deemed processed. Is that always bad? No. Having said that, it is true that the raw form of most foods is usually much better for you, because all the nutrients and enzymes are intact.

For instance, if you boil the heck out of broccoli, you’ll notice that the water turns green. That’s because all the nutrients were sucked out of the vegetable, leaving its dead carcass for you to eat. Does that mean you should never cook any vegetable? No. Remember, moderation. Now, the raw food movement guys might disagree, but there are some benefits to heating up some foods. Research shows that when you steam carrots, asparagus and some other veggies, that process makes it easier for our bodies to assimilate antioxidants and other beneficial components.

However, when man changes the composition of a food through nasty mechanical and chemical processes, it’s time to step back and analyze what effect that “food” could have. When you pick up a box in the supermarket and know that you could never reproduce the substance in your kitchen, because it has undergone various chemical processes, put it down. Walk away. Or, if you feel you need a little exercise—run.


To make it a little easier, let’s classify the processed foods to avoid as “super-processed.” These usually have a lot of enriched flour (where most of the nutrients have been removed), sugar, food coloring (to give it that lovely rainbow look), and a ton of added chemicals. They also tend to be high in trans fat (otherwise known as trans-unsaturated fatty acids) and salt, while lacking important vitamins and minerals. We can all see that Calvin’s favorite breakfast treat, Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, should be avoided.

Ultimately, it comes down to common sense. While you might feel you need a degree in organic chemistry to understand the ingredients of most foods, it’s worth glancing at the box. If you can recognize and understand the list, that tends to be a good sign. The good news is that not everything causes cancer. With a little effort, you can stay clear of the worst super-processed foods, which is a great start.

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