Bad news for fast food lovers: too much can boost your cancer risk

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In a recent study, scientists from Imperial College London have discovered an unsettling link between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and an increased risk of cancer.

Let’s break down what that means and why you might want to rethink your next fast-food order.

What’s in Your Meal?

Before we dive into the study, let’s clarify what ultra-processed foods are. These are foods that have been heavily modified during production. They include fizzy drinks, mass-produced breads, many ready meals, and most breakfast cereals.

Despite their convenience and often low prices, ultra-processed foods have a dark side. They’re generally higher in salt, fat, and sugar and often contain artificial additives.

These foods have been linked with several health issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

The Study and Its Findings

To examine this issue further, the team of researchers used records from the UK Biobank, which included the diets of 200,000 middle-aged adults.

They then observed these participants’ health over a 10-year period. They wanted to understand the risk of developing any type of cancer and the risk of dying from cancer.

Their findings? A higher intake of ultra-processed foods was linked to a greater risk of developing cancer, specifically ovarian and brain cancers.

These foods also increased the risk of dying from cancer, particularly ovarian and breast cancers.

They also calculated that every 10% increase in ultra-processed food in a person’s diet led to a 2% increase in overall cancer incidence and a shocking 19% increase in ovarian cancer.

Similarly, each 10% increase in ultra-processed food consumption resulted in a 6% increase in overall cancer mortality, a 16% increase in breast cancer mortality, and a 30% increase in ovarian cancer mortality.

In addition to these risks, the researchers discovered that higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a greater risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes among UK adults, and greater weight gain in UK children from childhood to young adulthood.

The Bigger Picture

This study contributes to an ever-growing body of evidence that ultra-processed foods can have a negative impact on our health, including our risk for cancer.

While further research is needed to confirm these findings and identify the best ways to combat the harms of ultra-processed foods, it’s clear that reducing their presence in our diets could be an important step towards improved health.

For those interested in cancer research, other recent studies have found that fish oil may help prevent cancer death and turmeric may help stop cancer growth.

This eye-opening study was conducted by Dr. Eszter Vamos and his team and published in eClinicalMedicine. For those wanting to lead healthier lives, it’s food for thought on what we’re actually putting into our bodies!

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