Recent research around carcinogens has unveiled the heartbreaking news that some of our favourite foods could actually be causes of cancer.
So what chemicals could be contributing to our ill health, and where are they found? Take a look at our list of the things you might want to avoid.
What are carcinogens?
Generally, a carcinogen is a substance which causes cancer, and they’re found in all sorts of things, from food to more obvious objects such as cigarettes.
The Food Standards Agency has revealed that certain foods, including toast, potatoes and crisps, when browned over too much, release a carcinogen called acrylamide, which contributes to causing cancer. We were heartbroken too…But never fear! Cancer Research UK has said that by maintaining a healthy lifestyle – and steering clear of some of these foods anyway – your could help cut your risk.
What is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is the substance found in over-cooked stratchy foods. The best way to avoid high doses of acrylamide is to deter from over-cooking things such as potatoes. The FSA suggests doing them to a golden brown colour, rather than a dark brown.
Hazards of benzaldehyde
Having your house smell lovely is a good thing, right? Well, you might want to think again. Apparently, a chemical called benzaldehyde is often found in household air-fresheners and, surprisingly, almonds too. It was classified as a hazardous substance by the United States Environment Protection Agency, so decrease your risk by limiting the amount of air fresheners in your home to just one, if possible.
Does acetaldehyde cause cancer?
Turns out you may have to watch out for that second glass of wine of an evening for more than just fear of the next morning’s hangover – it could be giving you cancer too. Acetaldehyde is a naturally occurring carcinogen found in alcohol, and could also be the reason for your miserable hangover the day after the night before.
It works against a chemical called glutathione, which aims to get rid of the toxins. In fact, in a study where the enzyme which helps break down acetaldehyde was blocked, the carcinogen resulted in a horrendous hangover for participants, with migraines and all-day vomiting.
Benzene has been linked to the cancer leukaemia through quite a few different medical studies, and it’s a chemical most prominently released in the form of car fumes.
However, properly serviced and maintained cars can help decrease this risk – so make sure you don’t miss that regular trip to the mechanic.
Similarly, the American Cancer Society recommends trying to avoid this harmful substance by staying away from cigarette smoke, a major source of the chemical, and ensuring that when pumping gas into your car you do so carefully.
Aflatoxin is a known poisonous and cancer-causing carcinogen, but is commonly found in lots of our kitchen cupboard food items. Formed of mould, this substance is found in peanuts, peanut butter, nuts and corn.
Although it is thought that unless you are consuming these foods in high quantities you should be safe, you could take detoxifying supplements to try and help rid your body of the bad stuff.
Digital Editor at woman&home magazine, F1 Fan, Chocoholic.