Ultra-processed foods 'may increase cancer risk'

Ultra-processed foods 'may increase cancer risk'

The French researchers found that a 10-percent increase in such ultra-processed foods in a person's diet caused his or her overall risk of cancer to go up by 12 percent.

That is on the grounds that an European study of what are called ultra-processed foods - fundamentally, stuff made in manufacturing plants with fixings not generally found in home kitchens - has discovered they might be linked to cancer.

Ultra-processed foods encompass a wide variety of products including mass-produced breads; packaged snacks; industrial candies and desserts; sodas and sweetened drinks; reconstituted meat products like chicken and fish nuggets; instant soups; and ready-to-eat meals.

No significant link was found between cancer rates and high consumption of "less processed foods including canned vegetables, cheese and fresh bread", Sky News reports.

The research only uncovered patterns in the data, meaning it's impossible at this point to say that ultra-processed foods cause cancer, Touvier cautions.

"It's already known that eating a lot of these foods can lead to weight gain", she said, "and being overweight or obese can also increase your risk of cancer, so it's hard to disentangle the effects of diet and weight".

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Ultra-processed foods include crisps, confectionery, mass-produced bread, ready meals, sugary cereals and fizzy drinks.

"Fiolet and colleagues provide an initial insight into a possible link between ultra-processed food related exposures and cancer", it said.

While these foods may taste great, they're often loaded with sugar, salt and fat.

In several developed countries, ultra-processed foods may make up as much as 50 percent of the daily diet, the researchers noted. In 2015, IARC classified consumption of processed meat as "carcinogenic to humans" (Group 1) on the basis of sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer after assessing more than 800 epidemiological studies. There's no strict definition for ultra-processed foods, though they typically involve a large number of additives (such as preservatives, sweeteners, sensory enhancers, flavors and processing aids), but little or no whole foods.

They enrolled 104,980 healthy French adult participants, of which, 22% were men and 78% were women, with an average age of 43 years who completed at least two 24-hour online dietary questionnaires that are meant to evaluate the usual intake of 3,300 different food items (NutriNet-Santé cohort study). They also highlight that their study mainly involved middle-aged women with high-conscious behaviours, and that this "might limit the generalisability of the findings".

Researchers also took into consideration other risk factors such as age, gender, levels of education, whether the participant smoked and family history of cancer. And people who mainly ate fresh and unprocessed foods - such as fruit, vegetables, pulses, meat and fish - had a lower cancer risk.

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