New study finds link between ultra-processed foods and cancer risk

The BMJ study which followed more than 200,000 participants for over 25 years found an increased risk of developing bowel cancer when overly processed foods were a predominant part of their diet, particularly in men (for CNN). Consumption of highly processed foods by both sexes leads to obesity, inflammation and cardiovascular disease, which are associated with an increased risk of cancer.

According to Eureka Alert, analysis of the study results showed that men consuming processed meats, ready meals and sugary drinks had the strongest association with the development of colorectal cancer. There was no direct link between women consuming processed foods and bowel cancer. This could be attributed to women’s choice of ultra-processed foods – such as yogurt – which may counter the effects of other, more harmful counterparts. Further research is needed to determine whether the reduced risk of developing bowel cancer in women from processed foods was affected by uncontrolled influences or by chance.

The study directly linked nutrient-poor foods to an increased risk of developing chronic diseases that can shorten the lifespan of both men and women (per CNN). Cardiovascular disease was the most common comorbidity caused by unhealthy diets, especially when nutrient-poor foods were also ultra-processed. Switching back to a whole-food diet and saving ultra-processed foods for a rare treat can help pave the way to a longer, healthier life.

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