In the latest study in the British Medical Journal, which was conducted by French researchers, they found out that skyrocketing rates of cancer deaths can be linked on the popularity of processed foods like ready-made meals, sugary cereals, and sodas.
As compared to home-cooked meals, ultra-processed foods are packed with a variety of chemical additives. The low content of vitamins and fiber, as well as the higher amount of sugar present in processed foods, increase your risk of getting any type of cancer. Aside from these, the additives and chemicals used to lengthen shelf life; and procedures used in manufacturing these products also contribute to this growing risk for cancer. Some of the carcinogenic compounds created in processing foods are acrylamide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Dr. Mathilde Tourier, the author of the study, said that:
“They all have food additives, they all have compounds formed during the processing and heating of the products, and they have compounds that could come from the packaging itself.”
The more processed food you eat, the greater your risk of cancer.
Another group of researchers from the Sorbonne University in France had conducted a study to reach these findings. They studied the food diaries of 105,000 adults. They were ranked depending on the amount of ultra-processed foods they ate. The top quarter of the sample, on an average, got 32% of their diet from ultra-processed foods. As compared to those at the bottom quarter of the sample wherein only 8% of their diets were from ultra-processed foods, this group at the top quarter had a 23% higher chance of developing any type of cancer in their later years.
They found out that a person’s diet with a 10% rise in the proportion of highly processed foods was linked to a more than 10% higher risk of all cancers, and specifically, breast cancer.
In terms of breast cancer risk, processed foods are particularly risky for middle-aged women. Those in the top quarter were likely to have 38% chance of having post-menopausal breast cancer and a 27% chance of premenopausal breast cancer, depending on their age. Also, colon cancer risk was 23% higher in this group.
An assessment was conducted in 3,300 different products. It was revealed that sugary products are the most common type of ultra-processed foods – 26% of these foods were in this category; 16% is made up of breakfast cereals, and one fifth was accounted to drinks.
In the meantime, consuming less processed foods is not linked to cancer. Some of these include freshly made bread that is not packaged, pasta, canned vegetables, and cheeses. While on the other hand, those who mostly consume fresh and unprocessed foods had lower risks for cancer.
Included in the list of foods that are considered ultra-processed are potato chips, mass-produced buns and bread, sodas, meatballs, nuggets, processed meats, instant noodles, frozen meals, and instant soups.
Experts suggest avoiding foods containing 15 grams of sugar, 5 grams of saturated fat, or 1.5 grams of salt per 100 grams.
Of course, you don’t have to read labels or check numbers every time you buy on groceries store or supermarket. Choose organic produce and whole foods – you can never go wrong when you stick to these healthy food choices. Also, maintain a healthy weight and have a regular exercise in order to further reduce your cancer risk.