An observational study led by Imperial College London suggests that the higher the consumption of ultra-processed foods, the higher the risk of developing and dying from cancer.
Researchers at the Imperial School of Public Health have conducted the most comprehensive assessment to date of the link between ultra-processed foods and cancer risk. Ultra-processed foods are foods that are heavily processed during manufacturing, such as carbonated beverages, mass-produced packaged bread, many prepared foods, and most breakfast cereals.
Ultra-processed foods are often relatively cheap, convenient, and sold in bulk as healthy options. However, these foods are generally high in salt, fat, sugar, and contain artificial additives. I’m here.
The first UK study of its kind used UK Biobank records to collect information on the diet of 200,000 middle-aged adult participants. Researchers monitored the participant’s health for 10 years, looking at her overall risk of developing cancer and her specific risk for 34 types of cancer. They also looked at the risk of people dying from cancer.
The study found that the higher the consumption of ultra-processed foods, the higher the risk of developing cancer overall, and particularly the risk of ovarian and brain cancer. was also associated with an increased risk of dying, particularly from ovarian and breast cancer.
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For every 10% increase in ultra-processed foods in a person’s diet, there was a 2% increase in the incidence of cancer overall, and a 19% increase in the incidence of ovarian cancer in particular.
For every 10% increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods, there was a 6% increase in overall cancer mortality, a 16% increase in breast cancer, and a 30% increase in ovarian cancer.
These associations were maintained after adjusting for various socioeconomic, behavioral, and dietary factors, including smoking status, physical activity, and body mass index (BMI).
The Imperial team collaborated with researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the University of São Paulo and NOVA University of Lisbon to conduct the research published in eClinicalMedicine.
Previous research by the team reported levels of ultra-processed food consumption in the UK, which is the highest in Europe for both adults and children. of adults were at increased risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes, and was associated with increased weight gain among UK children during childhood and adolescence.
Dr Esther Vamoth, First Senior Author, Department of Public Health, Imperial College London, said: Given the high consumption levels of adults and children in the UK, this has important implications for future health outcomes.
“While our study cannot prove causation, other available evidence suggests that reducing ultra-processed foods in our diets may have important health benefits. Further research is 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 diets.”
Dr Kiara Chan of the Imperial College London School of Public Health, lead author of the study, said: This is very important because ultra-processed foods are made with ingredients of industrial origin and often use food additives to adjust color, flavor, consistency, texture, or to extend shelf life. are highly concerned about
“Our bodies may not respond to these ultra-processed ingredients and additives in the same way as they do to fresh, nutritious, minimally processed foods. It is ubiquitous and highly marketed at cheap prices and attractive packaging to encourage consumption. It shows that there is
The World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization have previously recommended limiting ultra-processed foods as part of a healthy and sustainable diet.
Efforts to reduce consumption of ultra-processed foods around the world continue, with countries such as Brazil, France and Canada updating their national dietary guidelines with recommendations to limit such foods. Brazil has also banned the sale of ultra-processed foods in schools. There are currently no similar measures addressing ultra-processed foods in the UK.
Dr. Chan added: Other super processed products.
“Low-income households are particularly vulnerable to these cheap, unhealthy, ultra-processed foods. We need to minimize processing and subsidize freshly prepared meals.”
The researchers point out that their study was observational and, due to the observational nature of the study, did not show a causal link between ultra-processed foods and cancer. needs further work in this area.
reference: Chang K, Gunter MJ, Rauber F, et al. Consumption of ultra-processed foods, cancer risk and cancer mortality: a large prospective analysis within the UK Biobank. eClinMed. 2023; 0(0). Doi:10.1016/j.eclinm.2023.101840
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