Is this the Greta Thunberg of food? Dispute between 18-year-old from Texas and fast-food giants over cancer makes headlines

By Luke Andrews, Senior Health Reporter for Dailymail.Com

21:20 June 16, 2024, updated 21:42 June 16, 2024

In 2018, the world watched in fascination as a 15-year-old Swedish schoolgirl held a major protest against climate change in front of her country's parliament.

The young woman, Greta Thunberg, has expressed her passionate views on the environment around the world, including in the European Parliament and at the UN Climate Summit in New York.

In 2019, she was named Youngest Person of the Year by Time Magazine and, at just 16 years old, was named one of Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women in the World.

Now another young, fearless activist seems to be following in Thunberg's footsteps. However, this student from Austin, Texas, is not concerned about our climate, but about our food supply.

Grace Price, 18, is on a mission to get food companies to prepare food more safely and remove dangerous additives from their products. The Texas teenager made a documentary about the risks of these additives that has already been viewed more than 4.6 million times.

18-year-old Grace Price is gaining popularity on social media for her passionate statements about America's “carcinogenic” food supply.

The budding investigative journalist has already gained more than 40,000 followers with her campaign projects on X, including a documentary entitled “Cancer: A Foodborne Disease” and petitions against frying French fries in vegetable oil.

She is already having an impact: her film has been viewed 4.6 million times and many experts and young people her age are applauding her efforts.

The teenager claims that junk food is the “cigarettes of our generation” and avoids most of the foods that people her age eat on a daily basis, including French fries, candy and Diet Coke.

Greta Thunberg rose to global fame through her environmental campaign (pictured above at a hearing at Westminster Magistrates in London after being charged with public disorder for leading a demonstration). Could Grace be the Greta Thunberg of food additives?

“I want it to be widely known that ultra-processed foods, excessive sugar consumption and pesticides are the new causes of cancer for my generation,” Grace told

“The truth about all this needs to come out,” she added. “I'm trying, but I'm only a teenager.”

While the majority of all cancers – about 60 percent – ​​are thought to be caused by genetic mutations, the remaining cases are due to lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and poor diet.

Lifestyle factors, including the consumption of highly processed foods, are thought to be responsible for the increase in early-onset cancer, particularly colon cancer, in the United States.

Studies show that cases of colon cancer in people under 50 have doubled in the last 20 years. Other types of cancer, such as lung and breast cancer, are also increasing in young adults.

Ms. Price is pictured above at McDonald's operational headquarters in San Antonio, where she urged them to stop cooking French fries in vegetable oil. As part of her campaign, she also visited Whataburger and said she plans to visit Coca Cola's headquarters.
She first began to worry about food additives after her grandfather Hank (pictured) was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died a few months later
Scientists say that about 40 percent of cancers are related to lifestyle factors such as diet – but the other 60 percent are genetic

Grace uses her social media platform to voice her demands to major food manufacturers.

This includes asking McDonald's to stop preparing its French fries in warmed vegetable oils such as corn and soybean oil.

Studies show that these oils can form carcinogenic substances such as acrylamide and aldehydes when reheated.

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She also plans to show up at Coca-Cola's doorstep and ask executives why their drinks contain so much sugar.

A can of Coke contains a whopping 39 grams of sugar, more than the 36 grams recommended for men and 25 grams for women per day.

Studies show that sugar itself is not carcinogenic, but its excessive consumption increases the risk of obesity, which in turn leads to a higher risk of cancer.

Studies have shown that approximately four to eight percent of cancer cases diagnosed each year are related to obesity. Breast cancer and colon cancer are the most common cancers associated with obesity.

Grace also wants California's “Skittles ban” – which prohibits four additives found in many candies, baked goods and soft drinks – to be expanded nationwide.

The law, passed in October, will ban the sale of foods containing brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye No. 3 in the state starting in January 2027.

Animal studies have already found a link between red dye No. 3 and potassium bromate – used in foods like Peeps and Cosmic Brownies – and thyroid and kidney cancer.

Brominated vegetable oil, on the other hand, is said to damage the nervous system and propylparaben is linked to fertility problems and reduced sperm count in mice.

Due to health concerns, all four have already been banned from products in Europe.

The graph above shows the increase in colon cancer among young Americans from 1999 to 2020. There is a decline around 2020 because the Covid pandemic caused more people to avoid hospitals, resulting in fewer diagnoses.
The above foods are those that could be banned in California because of the “Skittles ban.” Peeps has already announced that it will update its recipe
Sun Drop, Walmart's Mountain Lightning and beverages from local grocery store Food Lion all contain brominated vegetable oil, which the FDA has proposed banning.

At least four Democratic-led states – New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey – are already considering following suit.

She also expressed support for California's proposed ban on five food dyes because of similar health concerns.

The additives – Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1 and Blue 2 – are associated with hyperactivity in children.

Three of them – Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 – can also be contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen.

The European Union already requires that all products containing Red 40 must be labelled with a warning – while some European countries have already banned several other dyes.

In the U.S., you can find them in everything from Gatorade to cake mixes and popular treats like Swedish Fish, Sour Patch and Nerds.

Grace first became interested in the connection between diet and cancer risk after her grandfather Hank died from the disease.

Frank lived to an impressive age of 89 – a decade longer than the average American, but Grace believes he could have lived longer if he had eaten healthier.

She believes the stomach cancer that killed him was due to his daily menus: Fried chicken and burgers.

“He grew up in South Texas and didn’t have access to a lot of healthy foods,” Grace said.

“He ate what was most common in the area, so he ate a lot of fried chicken and processed foods, which we believe ultimately led to his cancer diagnosis.”

Some studies suggest that a diet high in preservatives found in processed red meat may increase the risk of stomach and colon cancer.

Ms Price says part of her mission is to stem the rise in early-stage cancers in her generation. She says she has already received a strong response to her activism.
Pictured above, she's at home researching the link between cancer and food additives. Now she plans to develop an app that will help teens find out how much sugar and additives are in their meal.

Grace just graduated from Alpha School in Austin, a private school that teaches students using artificial intelligence (AI).

She now plans to attend the University of Austin, Texas, where she will pursue a STEM degree – a degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

As part of this, she wants to develop an app that will allow students to scan their meals or snacks and find out how much sugar and what additives they contain.

She also hopes to continue to expand her presence on X and other platforms to warn others about the dangers of additives.

She said: “I'm not trying to be the next Greta Thunberg. I'm not trying to go out here and scream about how terrible these companies are.”

“But I try to encourage teenagers to analyze their meals and pay attention to how many calories and how much sugar each one contains to help them make healthier choices.”

Before researching the causes of cancer, Grace said she ate sweets every day and enjoyed fast food once a month.

But now that she has realized the connection, she hasn't eaten fast food since December last year.

At home, she avoids bread, fruit juices and even Diet Coke – out of concern about the sweetener aspartame it contains.

Some studies suggest that consuming large amounts of this sweetener may increase the risk of kidney and liver damage.

Grace hasn't been able to speak to anyone at McDonald's. A call manager in operations puts her on hold every time she calls.

At Whataburger, she says she was thrown out of the factory twice by security staff – the second time, the parking lot was surrounded by guards.

“I would say my mission is to halve cancer cases in my generation,” she said.

“I recently interviewed some elderly people in a nursing home about the causes of cancer and … When I spoke to them, it was devastating to hear how their lives had been completely destroyed by this disease.

“The information I share could save someone's life. I want to continue to advocate for change.”