If you’re a fan of highly processed foods such as potato chips and sugary cereals, you may want to think about cutting back on your intake of the snacks.
New research by French and Brazilian scientists published in BMJ has suggested that there could be a link between these kinds of foods and the risk of developing cancer. The research, which analysed the impact of fizzy soft drinks, cereal that is high in sugar and ready-to-eat meals have on health found that it’s not great when it comes to the risk of cancer.
Foods that are highly processed tend to contain a lot of sugar, fats and salts. While they can taste delicious, they lack vitamins and fibres and are often associated with obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Furthermore, many of these products contain legal yet potentially harmful additives that have been known to increase the formation of cancer in animals.
Until now, there has been little research to suggest that these foods increased the risks of cancer, with the French and Brazilian aiming to discover the actual impact ultra-processed food can have on obesity.
The study by the Paris 13 University, France, looked at 104,980 health French adults, comprising of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. Other factors that can contribute to cancer including age, sex, family history, smoking status and physical activity levels were also recorded. The results suggested that increasing the intake of ultra-processed foods in a diet could increase the risk of overall cancer by 12 per cent. It also had the potential to increase breast cancer by 11 per cent, although there were no known links to prostate or colorectal cancers.
Less processed foods such as canned vegetables, cheese and bread found no major cancer links, while fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, pasta, eggs, meat, fish and milk all had lower risks of overall cancer and breast cancer specifically.
“To our knowledge, this study is the first to investigate and highlight an increase in the risk of overall – and specifically breast cancer associated with ultra-processed food intake,” the authors of the report said.
While more research needs to be done to determine more solid conclusions, the research is a step in the right direction. Because the sample was so large, the study was able to look at a range of different risk factors, although more research will need to be done to detect new cancers.
At present, more than 14.1 million people around the world have been diagnosed with cancer, with many countries increasing availability of processed foods over the past few decades. While many people opt for these alternatives because they’re cheaper and readily available, the research has warned that the cost of cancer treatment could be worse in the longrun.
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