11 Kid-Friendly Foods That Have Been Linked to Cancer

Stephanie Booth | Feb 23, 2017 Big Kid
11 Kid-Friendly Foods That Have Been Linked to Cancer
Image: Daniel Jedzura/Shutterstock

kids' food
Daniel Jedzura/Shutterstock

As parents, of course we want our kids to eat as healthy a diet as possible. But feeding our kids foods that will help them grow healthy brains and bodies is no simple task, especially when one factors in things like the insane cost of groceries, how little time any of us has to cook dinner, and of course -- how picky kids can be when it comes to what's on their plates. And sadly, science just made our mission a teeny bit harder.

Most parents get into a food groove with their offspring -- unlocking a few kid-approved meals and snacks that the little ones will eat without a fuss and zipping their way through the grocery store each week, grabbing the old standbys. We tell ourselves that our kids might not be expanding their palates by trying new foods, but at least there's no harm in what they're eating, right? Actually, maybe not so right. 

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New research indicts a BUNCH of kid-friendly foods might be link to-– wait for it -- cancer. And just when we thought we finally had mealtime all figured out. Here are the foods kids love but science says we should probably try to steer clear of -- or at least take a look at the labels before adding them to the grocery cart.

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  • Ice Cream

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    Hey, we love mint chocolate chip as much as the toddler in your kitchen. But here's the thing: According to a study in the journal Nature, most processed foods –- including many types of packaged ice cream -- contain emulsifiers, detergent-like chemicals that increase shelf life and improve texture. But they also wreak havoc on your gut bacteria, setting the stage for colorectal cancer. It's worth reading the labels ... there are plenty of ice creams that have only natural ingredients!

  • Hot Dogs

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    Additives like sodium nitrite and sodium are put into processed meats like hot dogs to up their flavor or keep them fresh on store shelves. Unfortunately, according to the American Cancer Society, these compounds also have cancer-causing potential.

  • Sandwich Meats

    bologna sandwich

    It's not just hot dogs you need to steer clear of -- processed lunch meats often contain additives like sodium nitrite and sodium.

  • Potato Chips

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    Acrylamide is a chemical used to produce paper, dyes, and plastics. It's also used in sewage treatment and is a "probable human carcinogen." But -– fun fact! According to the National Cancer Institute, when some veggies are heated to a super-high temperature, particularly when they're fried, baked, or broiled, they produce this same icky chemical. Translation: Potato chips aren't so tasty anymore.

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  • French Fries

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    Ditto for fries. Sniff.

  • Milk


    Yeah, yeah, milk does a body good. But the Breast Cancer Fund suggests making sure that quart of leche you buy at the store is free of bovine growth hormone (rBGH/rBST). It's as disgusting as it sounds AND is linked to breast cancer. (A tip from the Center for Food Safety: look for rBGH-free dairy products, too.)

  • Baked Goods


    Who hasn't bribed a toddler for 10 more minutes of good grocery store behavior by handing them a bagel or muffin from the bakery? But, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the flour used in MANY commercial baked goods contains an additive called potassium bromate, which has been linked to cancer. (It's already been banned in Canada and the United Kingdom, if that tells you something.)

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  • Canned Goods


    It's not the "goods" in question in here. It's the cans. Most are lined with a synthetic estrogen (yum!) called bisphenol A (BPA) which can leach into food. Besides obesity, fertility issues, and immune system probs, University of Cincinnati researchers have linked BPA to cancer. The worst canned offenders? Foods that are super-acidic (like tomato soup or spaghetti) or salty or fatty, which is pretty much any cream-based soup.

  • Palm Oil

    Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock

    Palm oil is used in TONS of sweet, snacky foods from KitKats to Nutella in order to provide a creamy, spreadable texture. Downside: Per the European Food Safety, when palm oil's heated to a very high temperature, carcinogenic chemicals are created. No surprise, these are super-risky for kids under the age of 10. Nutella has recently been targeted for its use of palm oil, but the manufacturer swears they don't heat it THAT much. Still, spread that stuff thin!

  • Fruit Snacks

    Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

    There've been plenty of online rumors lately about sugar and how eating it fuels cancer cells. Not true! But what does make that handful of fruit snacks more trick than treat are the dyes many brands contain. YEARS ago, the Center for Science in the Public Interest called out Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 for containing benzidine, a human and animal carcinogen. Now consider how much artificially colored stuff your kiddo eats  Scary, huh?

  • Diet Soda


    Trying to cut back on your kiddo's sugar intake is a noble idea. (You read that previous slide, right?) But artificial sweeteners ain't the way to do it. True, the National Cancer Institute points out that although some studies have linked saccharin and aspartame to cancer, the evidence isn't consistent. But isn't some proof reason enough to avoid them?

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