In a study from Imperial College London and elsewhere, scientists found higher intake of ultra-processed foods may be linked to an increased risk of developing and dying from cancer.
They have produced the most comprehensive assessment to date of the association between ultra-processed foods and the risk of developing cancers.
Ultra-processed foods are food items that have been heavily processed during their production, such as fizzy drinks, mass-produced packaged breads, many ready meals and most breakfast cereals.
Ultra-processed foods are often relatively cheap, convenient, and heavily marketed, often as healthy options. But these foods are also generally higher in salt, fat, sugar, and contain artificial additives.
It is now well documented that they are linked with a range of poor health outcomes including obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In the study, the team used UK Biobank records to collect information on the diets of 200,000 middle-aged adult participants.
Researchers monitored participants’ health over a 10-year period, looking at the risk of developing any cancer overall as well as the specific risk of developing 34 types of cancer. They also looked at the risk of people dying from cancer.
The team found that higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a greater risk of developing cancer overall, and specifically with ovarian and brain cancers.
It was also linked to an increased risk of dying from cancer, most notably ovarian and breast cancers.
The team also found for every 10 percent increase in ultra-processed food in a person’s diet, there was an increased incidence of 2 percent for cancer overall, and a 19 percent increase for ovarian cancer specifically.
Each 10% increase in ultra-processed food consumption was also associated with increased mortality for cancer overall by 6%, alongside a 16% increase for breast cancer and a 30% increase for ovarian cancer.
The team also found that higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a greater risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes in UK adults, and a greater weight gain in UK children extending from childhood to young adulthood.
This study adds to the growing evidence that ultra-processed foods are likely to negatively impact our health including our risk for cancer.
The team says further research is needed to confirm these findings and understand the best public health strategies to reduce the widespread presence and harms of ultra-processed foods in our diet.
If you care about cancer, please read studies about fish oil may help prevent cancer death, and turmeric may help stop cancer growth.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about critical cause of pancreatic cancer spread, and results showing Aspirin could increase survival in cancer.
The study was conducted by Dr. Eszter Vamos et al and published in eClinicalMedicine.
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