Bacon, Hot Dogs, Nutella: Are Your Fave Foods a Cancer Risk?


Nutella spread
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In the past few years, some foods beloved by Latinos and many other Americans have come under fire by scientific studies for their link to increased cancer risk.

Even Nutella.

Palm oil, a key ingredient in Nutella, a popular hazelnut and chocolate spread, may contribute to cancer risk, according to a recent report.

This finding comes on the heels of another report on palm oil, an edible ingredient used in a wide variety of foods, was found to contain “a potential carcinogenic contaminant.” The report didn’t urge against eating products with palm oil, and suggested additional research. Nutella’s parent company defends its inclusion of palm oil as safe because it is freshly squeezed fruits processed at controlled temperatures, Reuters reports.

Regardless, this isn’t the only food under fire.

Eating red meat has been linked to cancer.

And in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that eating processed meats, such as bacon, hot dogs, and ham could cause colorectal cancer – the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Latinos.

Although the increased risk may not be sky-high.

“It said our overall lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is 5%, and if we eat the amount of processed meat they were talking in the study, which was 50 grams or more, that increased our risk to 6%, so it really isn’t that high,” said registered dietician nutritionist Angie Murad in an interview. “And there are other things that contribute like genetics our overall quality of diet.”

Alcohol, long considered a cause of numerous health problems, was found to cause up to at least seven types of cancer. Researchers analyzed 10 years’ worth of data and found that heavy drinkers have higher risks for cancer.

A study of Latinos and alcohol abuse by Michigan State University found they have a higher risk of alcoholism than their white counterparts.

“The leading causes of death and disability are largely chronic diseases now, but 80% is completely diet and lifestyle, it’s what we expose ourselves to, what we put it our mouth,” Michael Greger, the founder of said in a four-part series, Prescription: Nutrition, in an interview with USA Today.

While this all sounds like really bad news, and a lot of it is, there is a silver lining.

There are lots of things that are healthy to eat and many of which can be easily incorporated into your diet.

“Making sure we maintain a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity and focusing on getting enough fruits legumes in our edit can have a big impact,” Murad said. “They have a lot of fiber which decreases colon cancer, and provides antioxidants which can prevent those diseases like cancer, heart disease.”

Some of the ways to improve diet and maintain health include:

  • Shift the focus to vegetarian sources (rice and beans, quinoa, soy) of protein when possible.
  • Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
  • Look for pre-packaged foods that are healthier like five-minute barley or pre-packaged salad mixes when you don’t have time to cook.
  • Eat frozen fruits that don’t have any sugar added to them.

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