However, just as some foods protect us from diseases, others are the perfect recipe for disaster, wreaking havoc on your system -- with cancer as a possible side-effect. With so much information out there, it's often hard to know what's safe and what's not.
Many of us pay attention to food labels, but some foods are so commonly used and convenient -- we often forget that they may house a host of toxic chemicals too. Here are some cancer-causing foods that specialists revealed they would never eat.
Tomatoes are abundant, inexpensive, and easy to grow. While canned tomatoes may be convenient, nothing beats the flavor and benefits you’ll get from a home-cooked meal with fresh, organic tomatoes. Fredrick Vom Saal, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri, explained that the acidity of tomatoes causes bisphenol-A (BPA) from the lining in canned foods to seep into the food. BPA is a synthetic estrogen-like compound that has been linked to reproductive problems, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, pointed to a recent study from UCLA that has linked chemicals found in the lining of popcorn bags to infertility issues in humans. These compounds have also been shown to cause liver, as well as testicular and pancreatic cancers in lab animals. (Related: Microwave popcorn gives off a toxic, lung-damaging gas when cooked.)
Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board, noted that many potato growers would never eat their own potatoes because of the high levels of pesticides they absorb from the soil. Furthermore, after harvesting, these potatoes are sprayed again with questionable chemicals to prevent them from sprouting.
Farmed salmon are fed an unnatural diet of soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers, noted Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany. Aside from lower levels of vitamin D, farmed salmon is higher in carcinogens such as PCBs, brominated flame retardants, antibiotics, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT.
To boost milk production, cattle are often treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST), said Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. These growth hormones induce the production of another hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in milk. High IGF-1 levels in humans have shown to increase the risk of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer.
According to biotech specialist Michael Harris, non-GMO fermented soy is the only soy fit for human consumption. Genetically modified, unfermented soy has been found to disrupt hormonal balance and may cause several types of cancer too.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is a common phrase that may no longer be true. Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute (a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods), said that from all conventionally grown fruits, apples are the most doused in pesticides. While the industry claims these chemicals to be safe for humans, Marks added that farm workers have higher rates of many types of cancer.