Study: The link between processed foods and cancer
Processed snacks, drinks and desserts may be associated with a higher risk of cancer, according to a new study. The research, published Wednesday in The BMJ, focused on ultra-processed foods, which tend to be high in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt.
In the new study, researchers found that, among almost 150,000 French adults, a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in a person’s diet was correlated with a 12% higher risk of cancer.
The paper is the first to explore the link between cancer and ultra-processed foods — that is, industrial formulations that typically contain many ingredients, including some not found in the typical kitchen — says study author Mathilde Touvier, an investigator at the Sorbonne Paris Cité Epidemiology and Statistics Research Center.
During the five years of study follow-up, about 2,200 people were diagnosed with cancer. In addition to the 12% increase in overall cancer risk, the researchers found that eating processed food regularly was linked to an 11% increase in the odds of getting breast cancer and a “borderline significant” increase in the risk of colorectal cancer.
It will take further research to understand which of these hypotheses, if any, is valid, Touvier says, so it’s too soon to panic.
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