The foods mentioned are those that have undergone significant processing during their production, such as soft drinks, packaged bread, ready meals, cereals, etc.
A new international scientific study shows that frequent consumption of processed foods is associated with an increased risk of cancer and death from it, especially in relation to gynecological cancers. This is the most comprehensive evaluation to date of the relationship between highly processed foods and cancer.
The foods mentioned are those that have undergone significant processing during their production, such as soft drinks, packaged bread, ready meals, cereals, etc. These products are often relatively cheap, easy to consume, and promoted through aggressive marketing. However, at the same time, they tend to be higher in salt, fat, sugar, artificial additives, and other substances. Other studies have linked these foods to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.
Researchers from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, in collaboration with scientists from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the Universities of São Paulo (Brazil) and Nova Lisboa (Portugal), who conducted the related publication in the medical journal Clinical Medicine, analyzed data from nearly 198,000 People between the ages of 40 and 69 had their health monitored for ten years, specifically with regard to the diagnosis of 34 different types of cancer and the likelihood of death from them. During the study, about 16,000 people developed cancer and 4,000 died from it.
It found that for every 10% increase in a person’s consumption of highly processed foods, there was a 2% increase in the chance of being diagnosed with cancer overall and a 19% increase in the chance of developing cancer, especially of the ovaries. In addition, there was an increase in deaths from cancer by 6% in general and in particular by 16% for breast cancer and 30% for ovarian cancer.
Lead researcher Dr Esther Vamos, of Imperial, said: “The new study adds to the growing evidence that highly processed foods potentially have negative health effects, including an increased risk of cancer. … Other available evidence suggests that Reducing highly processed foods in our diets may provide important health benefits. Future research should confirm these findings.”
“Highly processed foods are everywhere and are heavily promoted with cheap prices and attractive packaging to increase consumption,” said lead researcher Dr Kiara Chang, also of Imperial. This shows that our food environment is in dire need of reform to protect populations from highly processed foods.”
Recommendation to limit highly processed foods
The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations previously recommended limiting highly processed foods as part of a healthy diet. In many countries, such as France, Canada and Brazil, efforts are being made to reduce consumption of these foods.
The researchers suggested, among other things, that there should be clear warning labels on highly processed food packages to protect particularly poor families who are most vulnerable to cheap but also unhealthy products.
On the other hand, the scientists admitted that their observational study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between highly processed foods and cancer, but rather an association, so more research is needed to prove this relationship. They added that cancer has now overtaken cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of premature death in many high-income countries.