Highly processed food may increase cancer risk, study finds

Highly processed food may increase cancer risk, study finds

Processed foods already have a rap sheet a mile long. Obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease are some of the most prevalent — and deadly — consequences of a diet heavy in such foods. A new study adds another offense to the list: increasing your risk of cancer.

Ultra-processed treats, typically cheap and convenient options, can include anything from breakfast cereal to fizzy drinks. But processing food typically involves adding unhelpful levels of certain ingredients to the mix, like salt, fat, sugar and other artificial additives.

Using UK Biobank records to garner information on the diets of 200,000 middle-aged adult participants, Imperial College of London researchers monitored their health for a decade, looking at their risk of developing cancer at all as well as their risk of developing specific types of cancer.

For every 10% increase in a person’s ultra-processed food consumption, there was a 2% rate increase for cancer overall, and a 19% increase for ovarian cancer, in particular.

Even when researchers adjusted their findings for behaviors, such as smoking or being sedentary, the links remained.

The findings build upon the team’s previous research that showed higher consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with a greater risk of developing obesity and Type 1 diabetes.

Granted, these foods are often consumed for good reason: They’re cheap, easy to find and have a shelf life that surpasses that bag of wilted lettuce you optimistically bought last Sunday. They’re hard to escape! So, as with everything, moderation is key.

Related Episodes