Ultra-processed foods linked to increased cancer risk

Ultra-processed food is not known for its quality in terms of health. We know that, but the doughnuts your kind colleague brought into the office are hard to resist. Now work published in the BMJ on Wednesday can at least give you a longer pause before you pick the pink one with sprinkles.

Researchers have found that people who eat more ultra-processed foods are at higher cancer risks. These products are those on the list of ingredients with unrecognizable and unpronounceable names — everything from the candy that makes your tongue blue into healthier-sounding canned soups filled with artificial colours, additives or emulsifiers.

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Most foods are processed to some degree, but ultra-processed foods are usually even more filled with calories, sodium and sugar.

Research has long shown that people who rely on ultra-processed food appear to be overweight and more obese. They are also more likely to have issues with heart and breathing, or diabetes, studies have shown. Eating lots of processed meat like hot dogs was also related to increased colorectal cancer risk.

Researchers saw this new cancer connection in the NutriNet-Sante Cohort, a general population group in France, when they studied 24-hour dietary records of nearly 105,000 adults. The individuals reported what they ate from a list of 3,300 food items which, using a system called NOVA, were then classified by how processed they were.

What the scientists found was that a 10 percent rise in the diet’s proportion of ultra-processed foods was correlated with a substantial increase in overall prostate and breast cancer rates of more than 10 per cent.

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