Medical

Highly Processed Food May Have Links With Cancer

Highly Processed Food May Have Links With Cancer

Looking at food consumption data for 104,980 individuals, the researchers noted that a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet was associated with significant increases of 12% in the risk of overall cancer and 11% in the risk of breast cancer.

These include packaged snacks and baked goods, sugary cereals, ready meals, fizzy drinks, and reconstituted meat products and they account for up to 50% of total daily energy intake in multiple developed countries.

A study of 105,000 people hinted the more of such foods people ate, the greater their risk of cancer.

The research only uncovered patterns in the data, meaning it's impossible at this point to say that ultra-processed foods cause cancer, Touvier cautions.

This risk is separate of obesity and other secondary factors, according to the analysis, led by staff at the Université Sorbonne Paris Cité.

While on average, mass-produced foods tend to be less healthy, there's no underlying reason why this is always the case.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: 'A diet high in processed foods is often high in calories, salt, saturated fat and sugar and low in fibre - this increases the risk of some cancers, as does being overweight or obese. This is because there might be several factors at play - for example, people who eat more processed foods might also be less physically active or have other risk factors.




Contaminants, some of which may be carcinogenic, have also been found in heat-treated processed food products, and many contain legal but controversial additives such as sodium nitrite and titanium oxide.

On the other hand, fresh or minimally processed foods, including fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta, meat and milk, were associated with lower risks. However, no significant associations were found for prostate and colorectal cancers. They said the study presented several challenges, such as identifying the specific elements in ultra-processed foods that could give you cancer.

The comments from Food & Drink Federation came in response to a report in this week's British Medical Journal investigating the possibility of a direct link between consumption of "ultra-processed" food and incidences of cancer.

Study authors found that if a participant boosted their intake of ultra-processed foods by 10% their cancer risk jumped by more than 10%.

Within this study, 18% of the people's diet was ultra-processed. "By working closely with our partners throughout the food supply chain, we can use processing positively to ensure all sectors of society have access to safe, affordable food".

"Although this research is intriguing and will add to existing evidence on how diet may impact breast cancer risk, it's far from conclusive".

"Eating a balanced diet, avoiding junk food and maintaining a healthy weight are things we can all do to help stack the odds in our favor", she added.


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