Cancer is a disease that affects millions of people every year. Since 2012, the disease has taken the lives of more than 8 million people. Although several types of cancers are just ticking time bombs waiting for their moment, most types can be avoided by living a healthy lifestyle. Although there are treatments, prevention is the only truly effective way of living a cancer-free life. Consider living healthily as an investment for a brighter future, and it all begins with what we put in our bodies.

You may not be aware, but the foods we can pick off of the shelves or from counters can actually contain carcinogens packaged in confusing or misleading names. This list contains the 20 most consumed foods with known carcinogens that you should avoid starting right now.

1. Margarine


Margarine has been regarded as the healthier alternative to butter for spreading and shallow frying, but the opposite is true. Butter from grass-fed cows provides beneficial nutrients to their milk supply, something that you won’t get from the vegetable or animal fat used to make margarine. During the production process, the ingredients used to make margarine are heated to extremely high temperatures which lead to the occurrence of free radicals.

2. Canned Goods


It’s not that the contents of a can that are dangerous but rather the lining of the can which contains bisphenol-A (BPA), a compound known to trigger brain cancer. Nowadays, you can purchase canned goods from the store that are BPA-free, but you should always double or triple check to make sure you’re getting a safe container. The most dangerous type of canned food in a BPA-lined can is tomato products.

3. Microwave Popcorn


Both the paper bag and the popcorn can lead to lung cancer. The kernels used in popcorns are most likely GMO, and the “butter” that gives it its iconic flavor is nothing more than an artificial flavoring with high traces of diacetyl. Consider popping your own corn the old fashioned way without the inclusion of fake butter, questionable kernels, and hazardous packaging.

4. Deli Meats


Nothing pairs better with a glass of wine than a thin slice of cheese and deli meat. Unfortunately, consuming the sandwich meat you purchase over the counter can severely increase your risk of colon cancer. Most deli meats are jam-packed with preservatives to give them that “healthy” look for weeks on end before being picked up by an unsuspecting carnivore.

5. Grilled Red Meat


Grilling your meat is arguably one of the best ways to enjoy the natural flavors and juiciness of a thick steak, burger, or hot dog, but it’s the heat and residual char marks that could potentially increase your risk of cancer. The char marks contain heterocyclic aromatic amines, a known carcinogen. You’re better off preparing your steak or hot dog in a skillet than on a grill.

6. Smoked Meat


It’s not the smoking process that can lead to cancer but rather the preservatives injected into the smoked meat at your local butcher shop or grocery store. The additives can add up over time and produce toxins that encourage the growth of cancerous cells. Consider purchasing a slab of raw meat and smoking it yourself.

7. Refined White Flour


Refining white flour removes all nutritional value. Bleaching flour is done to make it look more appealing to customers. What you may not know is that chlorine, a hazardous chemical to humans, is used to whiten flour. Furthermore, consuming refined white flour on a regular basis can create an insulin resistance by converting carbs to sugar. The resulting sugar is fuel for cancer cells.

8. Hydrogenated Oils


Hydrogenated oils are oil extracted from vegetable (so far so good) but are then chemically treated to alter how they taste and smell (no longer good). The resulting product is chock full of omega-6 fats – something that we consume way too much of – that can modify the structure of our cells and support the growth of cancerous cells.

9. Farmed Fish


Fish can be one of the healthiest forms of protein we can consume. However, the farmed-raised variety of fish will do nothing for your body. Because fish are raised in a bacteria-filled environment, they need to be given antibiotics, pesticides, and other carcinogenic chemicals to control the growth of viruses and parasites. The resulting fish have most of their nutrients removed and replaced with cancer-causing compounds.

10. Alcohol


They say that the poison in food and drink is in the dosage. There’s a fine line between moderate drinking and overconsumption of alcohol. A glass of red wine a day will help keep your brain sharp, but more than that will exponentially increase the risk of contracting cancer.

11. Refined Sugar


We all have a sweet tooth, but indulging in sugary treats is a main contributor to the growth of cancer cells. Sugar has been proven to be one of the most addictive substances which is unfortunate since cancer cells thrive when abundant levels of sugar is present. Perhaps the next time you feel a sugar crave coming, it’s time to go cold turkey and nibble on a carrot instead.

12. Carbonated Beverages


Soda has never been good for us. Considering the high levels of fructose corn syrup and mysterious food colorings, it’s amazing that the drink is even allowed to be sold in stores and even in school cafeterias. The carcinogen in carbonated drinks can be found in the refined sugars used to give it the sweet taste we’ve grown to love.

13. Potato Chips


Although our bodies require sodium to function properly, having too much of it can destroy our bodies and increase the risk of stomach cancer. Apart from being way too salty, potato chips get their crispiness from acrylamide, a carcinogen used in cigarettes.

14. Artificial Sweeteners


Since sugar can cause cancer down the road, what is the healthier alternative to keeping our teas and coffees sweet? We can tell you right now that the answer does not lie in a packet of artificial sweetener. Aspartame, a popular artificial sweetener, can wreak havoc on your organs and cause cancer.