Some foods can increase your risk of cancer

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Cancer foods

PHOENIX -- Food is supposed to fuel your body with good nutrients, but sometimes what we thought was healthy might not be the case after all.

The next time you go to the grocery store take a look around. Do you really know which foods are good for you and what ones may be hazardous to your health?

"People should pay attention to what they're putting into their bodies because a third of all cancers are known to be diet-related and lifestyle-related," Registered Dietitian Michelle Dudash said.

"The three foods that are commonly associated with an increased risk for cancer include alcoholic beverages, processed meats and red meat," she said.

Another chemical thought to be cancer-causing is called acrylamide. It forms naturally when starchy foods are baked or fried at high temperatures.

Dudash says you can find it in potato chips and french fries.

"They're also finding it in wheat products and even things like cookies because if they're baked at a high temperature and browned, that browning process is creating more of the acrylamide," Dudash said.

A recent settlement in California has four big food manufacturers agreeing to reduce the levels of acrylamide in their potato chips and french fry products.

Studies have shown that the chemical, which also has industrial uses, causes cancer in lab animals and nerve damage to workers who are exposed to high levels.

"A lot of the studies are done in the lab with animals and they give them high quantities and when we transpose that information and take that information to the regular public, you are not drinking 500 cans of soda a day, you're usually having one or two," said Professor Sandra Mayol-Kreiser with ASU's Department of Nutrition.

Mayol-Kreiser believes making the public aware of acrylamide is important. This way the consumer can make the decision to eat it or not.

And both registered dietitians say the best bet is to use moderation with foods that could increase your risk of cancer.

"We want to stay away from charcoaling when grilling and blackening our foods," Mayol-Kreiser said.

"Eat less of fast food, less of foods that come out of a box, and eat more foods in their original state," Dudash recommended.

Currently the FDA is researching to see if acrylamide poses a health risk in food. For more information, log on to www.fda.gov .