Study Finds Link Between Ultra-Processed Foods and Increased Cancer Risk
A new study has found a link between a high intake of ultra-processed foods and an increased risk of developing cancer. The study, published in eClinicalMedicine, was conducted by the team at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health. The team used UK Biobank data to examine the diets of 197,426 people aged 40 to 69 and track their health over a decade.
Ultra-processed foods are industrial-made with five or more ingredients, and feature additives whose main purpose is to imitate aspects of natural foods such as flavors, colors, and emulsifiers. Examples of ultra-processed foods include: carbonated drinks (sodas) or energy drinks, chocolates and sweets, fruit-flavoured yoghurt, instant food mixes like soups and sauces.
Among participants, the mean ultra-processed food (UPF) consumption in the total diet was 22.9 percent. After a median follow-up period of 9.8 years, it was discovered that 15,921 individuals had been diagnosed with cancer, with 4,009 resulting deaths. For every 10% increase in UPF consumption, the rate of cancer in general and ovarian cancer in particular went up (hazard ratios of 1.02 and 1.19, respectively). A 10% increase in UPF consumption was linked to higher mortality risks from overall, ovarian, and breast cancers (hazard ratios of 1.06, 1.30, and 1.16 respectively).
Kiara Chang, first author from Imperial College London’s School of Public Health, expressed her concern over the exceptionally high amount of energy intake from ultra-processed foods in the UK. According to her, such foods are produced with industrially derived ingredients and often use additives to alter their color, taste, consistency, and texture, or extend their shelf life.
Dr. Eszter Vamos, a clinical senior lecturer in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London and lead author of this study, told Medical News Today that the findings of this study on overall cancer risk are in agreement with the known importance of a healthy diet in reducing cancer risk.
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