We all know that processed foods can be bad for us, but just how bad are they? New research recently published in the British Medical Journal supports the link between highly processed foods and certain cancers. This means that your favorite sausages, potato chips, biscuits, and canned sauces can be detrimental to your health.
A team of researchers from Brazil and France found that diets with ultra-processed foods led to a 12% higher risk of developing cancer overall, and an 11% greater risk in developing breast cancer specifically. The study, titled “Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort,” further warns people against excessive consumption of processed food items.
Processed foods, loaded with sodium for its preservative properties, can cause cancer.
For the study, the researchers followed a healthy group of 104,980 French adults (28% men and 78% women) with the average age of 43. Each participant was asked to fill out two online dietary questionnaires, which were designed to record the participant’s consumption of about 3,300 different food items.
The foods listed in the study were grouped according to their degree of processing.
Over the course of five years, the researchers identified which people developed cancer. The researchers wrote in their paper:
“These results should be confirmed by other large scale, population based observational studies in different populations and settings. Further studies are also needed to better understand the relative effect of nutritional composition, food additives, contact materials, and neoformed contaminants in this relation.”
This new research supports previous studies linking certain foods to risk of cancer and other diseases.
The researchers made their own recommendations based on their findings:
“Rapidly increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer and other non-communicable diseases. Thus, policy actions targeting product reformulation, taxation, and marketing restrictions on ultra-processed products and promotion of fresh or minimally processed foods may contribute to primary cancer prevention. Several countries have already introduced this aspect in their official nutritional recommendations in the name of the precautionary principle.”
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