Diet don'ts to cut your cancer risk

Foods to avoid to cut your cancer riskPic: Getty

The causes of cancer are many and varied, and scientists are still searching for the key to this killer disease. Just as links have been made between diet and protection against cancer, so too has there been some evidence to suggest that some foods could increase your risk of developing the disease. We take a look at some of the potential offenders in your diet.

Red meat
According to Cancer Research, red meat such as fresh, frozen or minced beef, pork and lamb could increase the risk of bowel cancer and possibly stomach cancer if your eat too much. Though there's no harm in eating red meat in moderation, the key is to eat smaller and fewer portions. Think of it more like a side dish, or swap red meat for pulses and beans for a fill-you-up, protein-packed alternative. It is also thought that cooking meat at high temperatures, where charring occurs, could produce carcinogenic chemicals so be careful at your barbecues this summer.

Processed meat
Much as red meat is associated with an increased chance of bowel cancer, too many processed meats such as ham, bacon, salami and sausages in the diet are also considered a risk. Cut back on these items by opting for lean white meat like chicken or turkey instead.

High-salt foods or those preserved in salt are not only associated with an increased risk of stomach and nasopharynx cancer, but also with increased blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. While a pinch added to your plate or whilst cooking is unlikely to cause a problem, salt-preserved foods could, and watch for high quantities of hidden salt in processed foods and ready meals.

Fats do form an essential part of our diet, but studies have suggested that too much saturated fat in the diet could increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Cutting back on frying in oil and eating biscuits, crisps, cheese and butter will mean you're consuming less saturated fat and reducing your chances of developing this disease.

Refined white flour
Commonly used in a whole host of processed foods, refined white flour could be harmful to women in particular. A study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Mile Markers and Prevention revealed a 220 per cent increase in breast cancer amongst women who regularly consume such refined carbohydrates.

Fried and baked snacks
Crisps and other baked or fried snacks that are consumed on a daily basis by Brits are also a potential problem when it comes to cancer. The issue occurs because such foods are heated to very high temperatures, giving rise to the cancer-causing substance acrylamide. Animal studies have shown a link between high levels of acrylamide and several different types of cancer, and the substance has been described as a 'probable human carcinogen' by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Diet fizzy drinks
Loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients, diet fizzy drinks are likely to do your body more harm than good. A study by scientists at the University of Minnesota suggested that those who drank just two soft drinks a week almost doubled their risk of pancreatic cancer.

Do you avoid certain foods because of their association with an increased risk of cancer? Leave your comments below...