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Does Mcdonalds Cause Cancer? Here’s What’s Really in Chicken McNuggets

Mcdonald's cancer thumb

I don’t think there’s a company as loved and as hated as McDonald’s.

Now just as many people HATE Mcdonald’s, and unfortunately it’s just as famous for its health food scares.

But one question I have gotten multiple times is this:

Does McDonald’s cause cancer?

Let’s take a look today at what’s really inside chicken McNuggets – based on what McDonald’s claims is in it.

So What’s Really Inside McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets?

According to McDonald’s nutrition facts, here’s what’s in the chicken McNuggets:

Chicken nugget ingredients

So let’s take a particular look at three particular ingredients here, giving McDonald’s the benefit of the doubt (assuming they’re telling the truth 100%).


TBHQ is typically something that’s used to keep food fresh, and one of the big problems with modern life is that any food that’s packaged or canned needs to have additives in order to help make it more shelf stable.

So based on the toxnet entry, here are any associated health risks TBHQ has:

Toxicity Summary:


Here’s what that reads, blown up a bit:

HUMAN EXPOSURE AND TOXICITY: There has been reports of vision disturbances in individuals exposed to this chemical. ANIMAL STUDIES: Rats fed TBHQ in the diet caused liver enlargement. Acute neurotoxic effects of animals exposed to TBHQ included the following: convulsions, and medullary paralysis. Toxicology and carcinogenicity studies were conducted in rats and mice. Mice were exposed to t-butyl hydroquinone in feed for 2 years. Under the conditions of this long term feed study, there was no evidence of carcinogenic activity of t-butylhydroquinone in male or female exposed to TBQH.

Human Toxicity Excerpts:


Hydrogenated Soybean Oil

What’s the deal with Hydrogenated oils in particular?

We’ve previously talked extensively about the research related hydrogenated oils in this article: 5 disgusting ways hydrogenated oils are destroying your body.

Those included:

– Increasing LDL (bad cholesterol)

– Causing inflammation and hardening of arterial walls

– Showing a positive correlation with colorectal cancer risk

– Being STRONGLY linked to cardiovascular disease

– Increasing your risk of heart attack and overall death

And unfortunately, hydrogenated oils are fairly common in our food supply, especially packaged foods that require their oils to be more shelf stable.

Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate

Interesting side note: Phosphates are added to soda for their coloring and acidity, however they’re also a major player in the fact that soda ruins enamel on teeth.

Another weird/interesting/sad note on this particular phosphate, is that it’s added to french fries to actually decrease levels of a carcinogen known as acrylamide.

Sounds a bit scary to me that it’s used to offset a common carcinogenic effect of cooking french fries and starches at high temperatures (reason #154 not to eat fries? Maybe).

SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE reduces levels of the carcinogen acrylamide in french fries, prevents discoloration in potatoes and sugar syrups, and prevents the formation of struvite crystals in canned seafood.

Chicken McNuggets – Cancerous or Not? Use the Precautionary Principle

People often say, “Well that doesn’t prove anything!!”  – and they’re right.

But does that mean you should eat some of these ingredients?

That’s like a friend of mine whose doctor told him “Smoking a cigarette here or there is fine” – Are you freaking kidding me?

Sorry – smoking ONE cigarette is harmful.

ANY exposure to radiation is harmful.

Drinking soda is harmful.

Are any small, isolated events of these going to kill you or cause some health problems? No.

But does that make them safe?

So will McDonald’s give you cancer?

“No” – despite the fact that we know the additives are linked to type II diabetes, heart disease, alzheimer’s, and yes, there’s a VERY strong correlation with all cancers if you have the previous three health conditions.

So you be the judge.

Your Tiny Habit For Today

If you’re not sure what’s in your food, run the hell away – as fast as you can, as best as you can.

Hopefully this’ll provide some food for thought!

– Alex

Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1258556/pdf/biochemj01203-0016.pdf | http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+838 | http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm |

Have You Read My New Book Yet?

  Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 bonus video course if you show me your receipt. You can get the audiobook here too.

5 comments… add one

  1. so what cancer does it cause

    1. Hahah, maybe a new type 😉

  2. You do realise that saying you shouldn’t eat something because it may be bad is the same as saying you should eat something because it may be good?
    Oh and no, small radiation doses are NOT a problem.We take radiation by being exposed to sunlight as well.

  3. additives are linked to type II diabetes, heart disease, alzheimer’s, and yes, there’s a VERY strong correlation with all cancers if you have the previous three health conditions.

    There is no correlation between diabetes, heart disease, alzheimer’s… And cancer. This is a flat out lie. You shouldn’t just randomly make spurious connections like this.

    1. Hi,

      Here’s some interesting research:

      Shared risk factors for diabetes/cancer: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890380/
      Interesting NYTimes article on the shared Alzheimer’s/diabetes link: https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/bittman-is-alzheimers-type-3-diabetes/?mcubz=3

      What I mean is that many of these illnesses share similar risk factors.


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