Unhealthy diet and little exercise – these factors are responsible for up to a third of all cancers, the World Health Organization estimates. They can be avoided. Stiftung Warentest therefore provides an overview of which five foods mainly increase the risk of cancer.
The causes of cancer development are multiple and complex: familial predisposition or randomly mutated cells may be responsible. But there are also avoidable factors such as obesity and some unhealthy foods.
The risk of such factors is the classification of institutions such as the WHO International Cancer Research Agency or the European Food Safety Authority. They rely on many years of studies. Stiftung Warentest has looked at the current state of research and provides an overview of foods that should increase the risk of cancer in particular.
1. Sausage, ham and Co.
Processed meat has been classified by the WHO since 2015 as a carcinogen. Cured, smoked or salted meat products therefore increase the risk of colon cancer. Sausage, ham and Co. are therefore at the highest risk of cancer – together with tobacco smoking.
Although significantly more people die from the effects of smoking, according to Stiftung Warentest there are 6 million. Processed meat is responsible for at least 34,000 deaths.
The consumer organization therefore advises to eat as little sausage as possible. A daily intake of more than 50 grams – that is about two slices of sausage bread – increases the risk of colon cancer by 18 percent according to the WHO.
2. Red meat
According to the WHO, steak, chops and hack are "probably carcinogenic", a link with colon cancer is possible, possibly also with pancreatic and prostate cancer.
Red meat includes pork, beef, lamb and goat meat. Stiftung Warentest recommends eating a maximum of half a kilo of red meat per week. That is almost as much as a large piece of steak or two hip steaks.
Milk is one of the carcinogenic foods. However, only above a certain amount – and only for men: according to the Nutrition Report 2012 of the German Food Company, the increased calcium content in milk can cause prostate cancer in men. Stiftung Warentest therefore advises men not to take more than 1.5 grams of calcium per day. So much is in 1.25 liters of milk or 140 grams of hard cheese.
On the other hand, less milk can even protect against cancer: people who drink between 0.2 and 0.8 liters per day reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and in women it can protect against breast cancer.
For example, you can use one of these herbal alternatives for milk instead.
There is no direct risk of cancer due to sugar. However, it can indirectly cause cancer because it – consumed in large quantities – leads to obesity. Obesity is the third largest cancer factor, according to Stiftung Warentest. According to the WHO, the risk of at least 13 cancers is increasing. It is critical of a body measurement index of more than 25. The normal body weight is between 18.5 and 24.9.
To prevent obesity, Stiftung Warentest recommends eating sweets only at special times, drinking water instead of lemonade – and keeping an eye on your own BMI. Here you will learn how useful the BMI is and how you calculate it.
Alcohol increases the risk of cancer – regardless of the amount, says the WHO. He is responsible for seven types of cancer: in the oral cavity, the esophagus, the throat, the liver, the intestine and the breast. Only those who do not drink do not take any risk. But it is also true: the more alcohol you drink, the more harmful it is. Occasional bingo drinking is more critical than a glass more often. Sparkling wine, wine, beer or schnapps – the variety doesn't matter.
Incidentally, smoking drives the risk even higher, because the alcohol makes the oral mucosa permeable to tobacco pollutants, writes Stiftung Warentest.
If you do not want to miss alcohol, consumer defenders advise you: women should eat a maximum of one drink a day, men a maximum of two. A drink is equivalent to 0.1 liters of wine or 0.3 liters of beer.
Healthy food prevents cancer
In general, a healthy diet can prevent cancer. Above all, vegetable foods are preferred. Fruit. Vegetables, legumes and whole grains offer lots of fiber and phytochemicals that stimulate digestion and the immune system. Those who are mainly vegan or vegetarian are quite right: "It is estimated that the risk of cancer decreases by 11 percent in people who eat primarily food of plant origin," said the WHO.
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