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Ultra-processed foods may be linked to increased cancer risk

Ultra-processed

Summary: A high intake of ultra-processed foods, including sodas, chips and some white bread products, was associated with an increased risk of developing and dying from certain types of cancer, including brain cancer.

Source: imperial college london

Higher consumption of ultra-processed foods may be linked to an increased risk of developing and dying from cancer, according to an observational study led by Imperial College London.

Researchers at Imperial Oil’s School of Public Health have produced the most comprehensive assessment to date of the association between ultra-processed foods and the risk of developing cancers.

Ultra-processed foods are foods that have been heavily processed during production, such as soft drinks, mass-produced packaged breads, many convenience foods, and most breakfast cereals.

Ultra-processed foods are often relatively cheap, convenient, and heavily marketed, often as healthy options. But these foods are also generally higher in salt, fat, sugar and contain artificial additives. It is now well documented that they are linked to a range of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The first UK study of its kind used UK Biobank records to collect dietary information from 200,000 middle-aged adult participants. Researchers monitored participants’ health over a 10-year period, looking at the risk of developing cancer in general as well as the specific risk of developing 34 types of cancer. They also looked at the risk of people dying from cancer.

The study found that a higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of developing cancer in general, and specifically ovarian and brain cancers. It was also associated with an increased risk of dying from cancer, including ovarian and breast cancers.

For every 10% increase in ultra-processed foods in a person’s diet, there was a 2% increase in the incidence of cancer in general and 19% of ovarian cancer in particular.

Every 10% increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods was also associated with an overall increase in cancer mortality of 6%, as well as a 16% increase for breast cancer and 30% for breast cancer. ovarian cancer.

These associations remained after adjusting for a range of socioeconomic, behavioral and dietary factors, such as smoking status, physical activity and body mass index (BMI).

The Imperial team carried out the study, which is published in eClinicalMedicinein collaboration with researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the University of São Paulo and the NOVA University of Lisbon.

Previous research by the team has reported consumption levels of ultra-processed foods in the UK which are the highest in Europe for adults and children. The team also found that higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with an increased risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes in British adults, and greater weight gain in British adults. British children ranging from infancy to young adulthood.

Dr Eszter Vamos, lead author of the study, from Imperial College London’s School of Public Health, said: “This study adds to the growing evidence that ultra-processed foods are likely to impact negative on our health, including our risk of cancer. Given the high levels of consumption among adults and children in the UK, this has important implications for future health outcomes.

“Although our study cannot prove causation, other available evidence shows that reducing ultra-processed foods in our diets may provide important health benefits. Further research is needed to confirm these findings and understand the best public health strategies to reduce the widespread presence and harms of ultra-processed foods in our diets.

Dr Kiara Chang, first author of the study, from Imperial College London’s School of Public Health, said: “The average person in the UK consumes more than half of their daily energy intake from ultra-processed foods.

“This is exceptionally high and concerning, as ultra-processed foods are produced with industry-derived ingredients and often use food additives to adjust color, flavor, consistency, texture or extend shelf life.

See also

This shows a scale and a tape measure
It shows chips
The study found that a higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of developing cancer in general, and specifically ovarian and brain cancers. Image is in public domain

“Our bodies may not react to these ultra-processed ingredients and additives in the same way as they do to fresh, nutritious minimally processed foods. However, ultra-processed foods are everywhere and heavily marketed with cheap prices and attractive packaging to encourage consumption This shows that our food environment needs urgent reform to protect people from ultra-processed foods.

The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have previously recommended restricting ultra-processed foods as part of a healthy and sustainable diet.

Efforts are underway to reduce the consumption of ultra-processed foods around the world, with countries like Brazil, France and Canada updating their national dietary guidelines with recommendations to limit these foods. Brazil has also banned the marketing of ultra-processed foods in schools. There is currently no similar measure to tackle ultra-processed food in the UK.

Dr Chang added: “We need clear front-of-package warning labels for ultra-processed foods to help consumers choose, and our sugar tax should be extended to cover ultra-processed soft drinks, fruit-based and milk-based drinks. than other ultra-processed products.

“Low-income households are particularly vulnerable to these cheap and unhealthy ultra-processed foods. Minimally processed, freshly prepared meals should be subsidized to ensure everyone has access to healthy, nutritious and affordable options.

The researchers note that their study is observational and therefore does not show a causal link between ultra-processed foods and cancer due to the observational nature of the research. Further work is needed in this area to establish a causal link.

About this diet and the latest in brain cancer research

Author: Press office
Source: imperial college london
Contact: Press Office – Imperial College London
Picture: Image is in public domain

Original research: The findings will appear in eClinicalMedicine

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