Ultra-Processed Foods Associated with a High Risk of Cancer and Dying According to New Study

Ultra-Processed Foods Associated with a High Risk of Cancer and Dying According to New Study

According to a recent study, eating more ultra-processed food may increase your risk of getting cancer and dying from it.

The School of Public Health at Imperial College London has conducted the most thorough analysis yet of the link between eating foods that have undergone extreme processing and the risk of developing cancer.

Examples of ultra-processed foods include carbonated beverages, mass produced breads, numerous microwave meals, and the majority of morning cereal.

Dr. Eszter Vamos explains that “This study adds more to the growing evidence that ultra processed foods are likely to impact our health including our risk for cancer.”

Ultra-processed foods are frequently readily available, reasonably priced, and heavily advertised—often as healthy alternatives.

However, these foods typically contain more salt, fat, sugar, and artificial ingredients. 

They are now known to be associated with a number of health issues, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity,

and cardiovascular disease.

200,000 middle-aged participants in the first study of its kind in the UK provided information on their diets using UK Biobank records.

Over a 10 year period, researchers followed up on the participants’ health, examining both their general risk of contracting cancer as well as their specific risk of contracting 34 different types of cancer.

They also explored the risks of cancer-related fatalities.

According to the study, eating more ultra-processed foods raises your risk of getting and dying from cancer in general and ovarian and brain cancer in particular.

A person’s risk of developing cancer rose by 2 percent overall and by 19 percent for ovarian cancer for every 10 percent increase in the intake of ultra-processed food in their diet.

Additionally, each 10 percent increase in ultra-processed food consumption was linked to a 6 percent rise in cancer mortality overall, a 16 percent rise in breast cancer mortality, and a 30 percent rise in ovarian cancer mortality.

The study was published in the eClinicalMedicine journal.

The same team also pointed out in previous research that the consumption of ultra-processed foods in the United Kingdom is the highest in Europe.

The lead senior of the new study, Dr. Eszter Vamos, says that “Given the high levels of consumption in adults and kids in the UK, this has important implications for health outcomes. Although our study can’t prove causation, other evidence shows that reducing ultra processed foods in our diet can provide important health benefits. Further research is still needed to confirm these findings and to understand the best public health strategies to reduce the widespread presence and harm of ultra processed foods in our diet.”

Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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