Image of The word 'Cancer' magnified
The word 'Cancer' magnified; image courtesy of PDPics via Pixabay,

Many people already know that a diet high in processed foods isn’t exactly a healthy one, but now a new study has emerged that found a “strong link between consuming ‘ultra-processed’ foods such as soft drinks and packaged snacks and the risk of developing cancer.” The study itself examined 100,000 individuals and determined that other types of ultra-processed foods include “sweets; mass-produced, pre-packaged bread; processed meat products, such as hot dogs and chicken nuggets; instant soups; and pre-prepared packaged meals.”

The study, which was published earlier this week “in the medical journal The BMJ,” followed the participants of the study for a total of eight years. During that time, the participants kept “24-hours food diaries, indicating which types of food they ate.” From there, researchers “measured what proportion of each individual’s diet was ultra-processed.”

According to their analysis, “for every 10 percent of a respondent’s diet that was made up of ultra-processed foods, there was a 12 percent increase in overall cancer risk and an 11 percent increase in breast cancer risk.” These new findings just add to all the bad stuff we already know about processed and ultra-processed foods. For example, consuming these foods “has previously been connected to obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.”

Image of candy, a highly processed sweet
Candy; image courtesy of Pixabay,

When discussing the findings of the study, Mathilde Touvier, Ph.D., a nutritional epidemiologist with the Sorbonne Paris Cité Epidemiology and Statistics Research Center, said: “I believe our findings will prompt much new research on the connections between processed foods and disease.”

However, despite their findings researchers argue that more research is needed to determine “which additives or food categories specifically could be increasing cancer risk.” For example, Martin Lajous, M.D., an epidemiologist with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently said that the “ultra-processed designation covers a broad range of foods, all with their own additives, nutritional makeups, and methods of processing.” He added, “It’s a fair first step to link all of these foods to cancer…but we need research that narrows down which specific foods were consumed to see what they share in common.”

Consumers who find the findings of this most recent study alarming and wish to learn ways to improve their diet should start by eliminating or cutting back on ultra-processed foods. When commenting on the matter, Amy Keating R.D., a Consumer Reports’ nutritionist, said:

“As a general rule, the healthiest diets are made up of whole foods—those that have been minimally processed. For your heart, for your weight, and for your overall health, try to center the majority of your meals on whole grains, vegetables, plant proteins, fruit, fish, and lean meats whenever possible.”


Ultra-Processed Foods Linked to Increased Cancer Risk, New Study Shows

Ultra-processed foods linked to cancer

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