A comprehensive assessment conducted by scientists from Imperial College London and other institutions reveals a potential association between high intake of ultra-processed foods and an increased risk of developing and succumbing to cancer.
Ultra-processed foods, which encompass items such as fizzy drinks, mass-produced bread, numerous ready meals, and a majority of breakfast cereals, undergo extensive processing.
Despite being heavily marketed, often as healthy alternatives, and providing convenience and affordability, these foods generally contain elevated levels of salt, fat, and sugar and are enriched with artificial additives.
The detrimental health impacts of ultra-processed foods, including associations with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, have been well-documented in prior research.
A notable correlation between higher consumption of ultra-processed foods and an escalated risk of cancer, especially ovarian and brain cancers.
An association between high intake of ultra-processed foods and an elevated risk of cancer mortality, predominantly in cases of ovarian and breast cancers.
Every 10% increase in ultra-processed food consumption corresponded to:
A 2% rise in overall cancer incidence.
A 19% surge in ovarian cancer specifically.
A 6% uptick in overall cancer mortality.
A 16% and 30% increase in breast and ovarian cancer mortality respectively.
Additionally, high consumption of ultra-processed foods was linked to increased risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes among UK adults, and notable weight gain from childhood to young adulthood among UK children.
This study significantly contributes to the growing body of evidence signifying the adverse health impacts, including cancer risks, of ultra-processed foods.
The researchers, led by Dr. Eszter Vamos, underscore the necessity of further research to validate these findings and comprehend optimal public health strategies to mitigate the pervasive presence and harms of ultra-processed foods.
The detailed findings of this study have been published in eClinicalMedicine, opening avenues for additional research and potentially informing future nutritional guidelines and public health initiatives.
For more information about cancer, please see recent studies that yogurt and a high-fiber diet may cut lung cancer risk, and results showing that new cancer treatment may reawaken the immune system.
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