The increase in the risk of cancer is linked to ultra-processed food

A scientific study carried out recently highlights that those people who eat ultra-processed food regularly have a higher risk and are more vulnerable to diseases such as cancer. All types of food are processed in some way but those which belong to the so called ultra- processed category are typically much richer in calories, sodium and sugar. Hot dogs and ham are among the most common types of processed meat all over the world. Its consumption, however, has been tied to an increase risk of colorectal cancer according to a research.

How was the research carried out?

Researchers analyzed nearly 105 000 adults in the NutriNet- Sante cohort in France. The participants were analyzed according to what they ate from a list of 3300 food items that were placed in different categories taking into account how processed they were. As a result, the scientists found out that an increment of a 10% in the amount of ultra-processed food in their diet was linked to an increase of more than 10% in the risk of developing overall cancer and breast cancer. Mathilde Touvier, study co-author expressed that for her the strength of the results was quite surprising, she affirmed that they had carried out many sensitive analysis and that they had adjusted the findings for many co- factors but that the results were still quite concerning and strongly associated.

Touvier also said that this was just an observational study which means that scientists are not sure yet about what the causes of cancer and its increase are, but that her group will go deeper on the analysis of the connection of the different types of food with this disease to fully understand its relationship. One thing seemed sure for the researchers though, the levels of calories, sodium and sugar of this type of food are not good for our body.

According to Marji McCullough, strategic director of Nutritional Epidemiology at the American Cancer Society, people should not conclude from the study things like “if I eat this cracker I'm going to get cancer”. She expressed that the overall message of the study was really to consider an overall diet pattern rather than a specific ingredient.

What can be concluded from the study?

Ultra-processed food is spreading on the world's diet which means that there are more vulnerable groups likely to develop cancer nowadays. Eating this type of food means fewer healthy food is being consumed in opposition to what most nutritionists have recommended which is nothing more than a diet rich in proteins obtained from grains, fruits and vegetables instead of food with little nutritional value.

Trouver said: “Eat real food and try to limit ultra processed food at least until we know more”. The authors of the study also advice that people should have a balanced and diversified diet as one of their life priorities, which will help them to develop a healthy lifestyle and to be less vulnerable to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart and circulation problems and the most aggressive, cancer.


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