Ultra-Processed Foods Tied to Higher Cancer Risk

Ultra-Processed Foods Tied to Higher Cancer Risk

Past studies have tied excess consumption of processed foods like salami and hot dogs to higher risk of colorectal cancer.

Eating and drinking more of these products is linked to an increased risk of cancer, according to a new study by a team of French doctors that is sure to elicit controversy.

In this study, researchers defined them as "mass produced packaged breads and buns; sweet or savosamry packaged snacks; industrialised confectionery and desserts; sodas and sweetened drinks; meatballs, poultry and fish nuggets, and other reconstituted meat products".

The food items were groups according to degree of processing, and cases of cancer were identified using participant's declarations validated by medical record and national databases over an average of five years. (Past research has found that Americans get 61% of their calories from highly processed foods.) In the new study, researchers found that, among nearly 150,000 French adults, a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in a person's diet was correlated with a 12% higher risk of cancer.

There's another study in an already impressive pile that says you should be careful not to eat too much processed food.

They said that more work is needed to better understand the effects of food processing, however they added that policies which target product reformulation, taxation and the marketing of these ultra-processed products, along with the promotion of fresh or minimally processed foods, may contribute to cancer prevention. The research also indicated an 11 per cent increase in the risk of breast cancer.

They said the disease was claiming more lives because of the popularity of ready meals, sugary cereals and fizzy drinks. Essentially, this study has found a correlation, but there's nothing to suggest that the processed foods themselves are causing the cancer.

A study of 19 European countries published earlier this month found 50.7 per cent of food sold in the United Kingdom is ultra-processed, compared with 46.2 per cent in Germany, 45.9 per cent in Ireland and 14.2 per cent in France. And the more of them an individual eats, the higher their risk of cancer of any type.

Processed food that accounts for up to 50 per cent of the total daily energy intake in several countries, contains high levels of sugar, fat and salt and lacks vitamins and fibre. Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort.

During the study they discovered: On average, 18% of people's diet was ultra-processed, on average, there were 79 cancers per 10,000 people each year, and that increasing the percentage of processed food by 10% would lead to nine extra cancers per 10,000 people per year. "They were really strongly associated, and we did many sensitive analysis and adjusted the findings for many co-factors, and still, the results here were quite concerning", study co-author Mathilde Touvier said.