It’s probably not something you think about every day, but there are about 200 different types of known cancer. The chronic disease is linked to many possible causes. For example, tobacco smoke when inhaled can cause lung cancer. Overexposure of the skin to the sun’s rays can cause melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer. Moreover, the foods you eat could contain carcinogens, which are the harmful substances (chemical, radiation, etc) that can cause cancer.

If you care about preventing cancer, you should pay more attention to the food you eat. Studies show diet and other lifestyle factors like smoking can increase or decrease your risk of developing cancer. Here are some everyday foods you will be better off avoiding because they’ve been been scientifically shown to significantly increase the risk of cancer.

Diet and sugared sodas

Many people are aware soda is packed full of calories and other potentially harmful ingredients like artificial caramel coloring. Soda also has no nutritional benefit in the body. However, did you know popular diet and sugared sodas can cause pancreatic cancer? According to a study from the University of Minnesota, people who drink as little as two soft drinks per week almost double their risk of developing pancreatic cancer. You might want to seriously consider switching to one of the many natural alternatives of soda, such as green tea.

Alcohol

Alcohol increases your risk of cancer of the breast, liver, oesophagus, mouth and bowel. Your risk of breast cancer, in particular, increases by around 7-12% per unit of alcohol consumed in a day. One unit equals 10 milliliters or 8 grams of pure alcohol. Light drinkers (those who drink up to one alcoholic drink per day) have a 5% higher breast cancer risk compared with non-drinkers. Avoid consuming alcohol. Your risk of cancer lowers the less you drink. If you choose to drink, however, stick within the recommended daily allowance of 2 to 3 units for women and 3 to 4 units for men. That is no more than a standard 175ml glass of wine for women and a pint of strong lager or beer for men.

Red meat

The British Medical Journal reports that people who eat large amounts of red meat (beef, lamb and pork) are at a higher risk of bowel cancer than those who do not eat red meat. That’s because a group of chemical compounds called heterocyclic amines that form on the surface of meat when it is roasted, grilled, fried or barbecued are thought to be cancer-causing. Cut down on red meat to reduce your risk of cancer. Also, avoid eating a lot of processed meat like ham and bacon because this kind of meat has been linked with bowel cancer. If you must eat red meat, the World Cancer Research Fund advises no more than 500 grams (cooked weight) of red and processed meat per week.

Salt in processed food

About three quarter of the salt we eat comes from processed foods, especially canned and pickled foods. It is little wonder that people don’t realize they are consuming too much salt in their diet. The salts in processed foods like bread and bacon can inflame and damage the soft lining of the stomach and leave you vulnerable to cancer-causing tumors. Although medical developments have seen marked improvements in the treatment of inflammations of the stomach lining, it is still recommended that you cut back on high salt diets to reduce your risk of stomach cancer. Experts actually recommend you cut back on consumption of salt to no more than 5–6 grams a day.

Microwave popcorn

Microwave popcorn may be convenient, but it can cause pancreatic, testicular and liver cancers. Independent studies have linked the diacetyl chemical used to give the popcorn their artificial butter flavor with causing lung damage and the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) found in the microwave popcorn bag linings with causing tumors. The Environmental Health Perspectives peer-reviewed journal has even recognized PFOA as potentially carcinogenic. If you’re a popcorn fan, you are best advised to stick to the old-fashioned kernel popping machine. This way you will avoid raising your cancer risk.