Contamination OCD involving carcinogens - My OCD Community

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Contamination OCD involving carcinogens

ocdbegone89 profile image
5 Replies

Hello. I am new here. Is anyone dealing with something similar? My mind has been constantly weighing out the last several surfaces that an object or food item has touched and obsessing about what carcinogens could be on it. It is at a point where it is affecting my eating and functioning. I am pushing through it and will continue to do so, but sometimes the anxiety is so realistic and convincing that I end up throwing stuff away which is most likely fine, because in the moment, it seems like the only responsible action I can take for my health. I tell myself that if I am to get cancer, it would be unlikely that I would know what exactly caused it, and that I also need to live a life without regrets, but often, in the moment, that feels like one of the lies I tell myself to distract myself from the irresponsible risks that I am taking. A part of me knows that this is the OCD doing its thing, but sometimes the confusion makes normal activities, like eating, seem like a risk not worth taking. How is it in your case?

5 Replies
Sallyskins profile image

To be rational about this, the possibility that your food may have picked up something carcinogenic from something it has touched is remote. Take the precaution of washing fruit and veg before eating or cooking it, by all means, but it is unlikely that there are carcinogens to wash off. Some people avoid burnt toast because of the cancer risks, but the Cancer Research charity states categorically on its website that burnt toast is not going to give you cancer!

It's more likely to cause you health problems if you restrict your diet. Among the things cancer experts tell us, eating a good range of fruit and veg, of a range of colours (so plenty of green, reds, yellows etc) and getting enough fibre go a long way to preventing cancer. So don't avoid foods that you know are going to do you good rather than harm. Also, getting enough sunlight so your skin makes Vitamin D, without overdoing it - it is known that Vitamin D is an anti-carcinogenic.

These are all sensible things to do. But to tackle the OCD, perhaps go out of your way to eat things you might be wary of. Just eat them, enjoy eating them, and tell yourself that you won't worry about it now, but perhaps allow yourself ten minutes' worry a couple of hours later. The odds are that a couple of hours later you will have forgotten all about it. This is a technique that I use often.

ocdbegone89 profile image
ocdbegone89 in reply to Sallyskins

Thanks for the advice. I have started to eat more food that caused obsessions since posting this. Hasn't been easy, but the anxiety lessened somewhat. It flared up on some days, but it did before this, anyway. What I think would help me is some place where I could look up these sort of possibilities, because in my case, it is mostly obsessions that once food touches something, it is done for and not good to eat anymore, even if it is still in the packaging. Sometimes, it is an obsession about something on the surface it touches, that can get through the packaging and contaminate the food. Once the moment when I am trying to eat goes away, I can see, to an extent, that this is an exaggeration, but in the moment, it seems as real and reasonable as it gets. So far, I haven't found such a place to look this up.

Sallyskins profile image
Sallyskins in reply to ocdbegone89

Resist the temptation to check and research! The more you check, the more you research, about what could contaminate your food, the more doubts you will have and the more OCD will attack you.

The problem here is that OCD doesn't like doubt. And trying to ease that doubt just feeds the OCD. So the more you research the sort of things that could contaminate your food, the more doubt you will feel that your food is safe. And that leads to more research, and more avoiding food.

Any possible contaminants are likely to be a minute quantities - not enough to harm your health. The burnt toast case I mentioned in my previous answer is one example.

Putting these doubts away really does help. Try the technique about postponing your worry until later - it helps me a lot.

Pleasure and enjoyment are a great incentive. Think of the enjoyment you will get from eating - and the enjoyment you will be missing out on if you avoid eating. And eat what gives you enjoyment - don't think about harm, just concentrate on the enjoyment. That can also work.

fromzerotopanic profile image

I have similar thoughts and have realized that OCD and anxiety go hand in hand. I accidentally found myself over on another support group in ths Health Unlocked site, and it's the 'anxiety and depression support group'. I highly recommend you join that side as well, as what most of what you're describing here has a great deal with reacting to anxiety (which is a huge component of my OCD as well!). Maybe pop on there and see if reading through some of the posts helps. Because from what I understand, it doesn't matter what causes the anxiety, how you respond to it is key!

ocdbegone89 profile image
ocdbegone89 in reply to fromzerotopanic

They do indeed go hand in hand. In my case, it is the realistic anxiety that causes more issues than the urge related to OCD. I have been to that section a few times.

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