chewing gumGum chewing can’t possibly be bad for you.

It keeps your breath fresh and, for many people, it’s instrumental in kicking the smoking habit and losing weight.

Chewing gum is a harmless habit, right?

Not necessarily… Turns out, gum chewing – or at least some common ingredients in chewing gum - may actually be linked to cancer.

Two Potentially Deadly Ingredients

Given the fact that gum is sold in just about every checkout aisle anywhere, you wouldn’t expect cancer-causing ingredients to be lurking in each piece. But depending on which brand of gum you’re chewing, that could very well be the case!

Many people opt for chewing sugar-free gum in order to skip the extra, empty calories. Except that when the artificial sweetener aspartame is involved, gum chewing goes from helpful to harmful. What most people don’t realize is that aspartame was originally banned for human consumption by the FDA in 1980.

While there are many physical conditions and symptoms linked to aspartame, one of the most frightening is its similarity to acesulfame potassium, which is thought to cause cancer in animals. It’s believed that the aspartame in sugar-free chewing gum reacts similarly because the two compounds are so alike.

And that’s not the only carcinogen in chewing gum. BHT is a preservative used to help protect color, odor, and flavor in foods – and it causes cancer. It’s been banned in other countries because it’s such a toxic ingredient, but is considered safe in the United States.

Other Unexpected – But Common – Causes of Cancer

Think chewing gum is the only everyday event that can be dangerous? Think again!

Alcohol. This one is frustrating, because like gum chewing, many people turn to it for their health. It’s accepted that a glass of wine a night can be good for your heart health. Unfortunately, it’s also linked to several different types of cancer, including breast cancer. Consider which is a greater risk to your health, and choose to have a glass of wine a night – or not – based on your own assessment.

Diesel exhaust. Diesel exhaust has been officially linked to cancer – specifically lung cancer – since 2012. Luckily, most people don’t face the level of exposure that is going to cause a problem. However, if you’ve been in, or are still in, certain transportation or industrial trades, this is information you should take seriously.

Grilled meat. First, gum chewing is no longer healthy. Now, grilled meat. In fact, cooking meat over any high temperature like grilling or pan frying can be problematic. The high temperatures trigger compounds that have been linked to cancer in animals, as well as benign tumors that are known to be precursors to cancer.

Sugary drinks. Any foods that are high in sugar can be bad for your health and lead to cancer, but sugary drinks can lull us into a false sense of security. After all, a glass of lemonade or sweet tea on a hot day isn’t the same thing as an ice cream… Except that it very well might be. Sugar is sugar, and the sugar in sweetened drinks counts just as much as the sugar in a candy bar.

Using sunscreen. Sunscreen is supposed to reduce your risk of cancer, not increase it! But the chemicals in many common sunscreens can actually be contributing to a greater risk of skin cancer. One of the worst offenders is zinc oxide. Instead, look for all-natural sunscreens that block the rays without causing damage!

Talcum powder. Although talcum has been marketed as a way for women to “keep fresh” for generations, researchers have learned that regular use of talcum powder is linked to higher rates of ovarian and other cancers in women. Keep clean and fresh by taking showers and using bathroom wipes and leave the talcum powder in the past.

The causes of cancer have always been around. The difference is we are able to identify them more easily now. Even the ones everyone used to think were innocent. From talcum powder to gum chewing – it’s not as harmless or as healthy as you thought!