A new study concluded that eating more ultra-processed foods increases the risk of developing and dying from cancer, especially ovarian cancer.
197,000 people in the United Kingdom were surveyed, half of whom were women.
Conclusion: Eat right, Live Longer.
What are ultra-processed foods?
They’re not hard to find in your local supermarket. In fact, they are very hard to avoid!
Prepackaged soups, sauces, frozen pizza, ready-to-eat meals hot dogs, sausages, french fries, sodas, store-bought cookies, cakes, candies, doughnuts, ice cream and many more.
Here’s how study author Dr Kiara Change describes them.
“Ultra-processed foods are produced with industrially derived ingredients and often use food additives to adjust colour, flavour, consistency, texture, or extend shelf life.”
Here’s how most nutritionists describe them;
In a mastery of understatement, Dr Chang continued.
“Our bodies may not react the same way to these ultra-processed food ingredients and additives as they do to fresh and nutritious minimally processed foods,”
“However, people who eat more ultra-processed foods also tend to “drink more fizzy drinks and less tea and coffee, as well as less vegetables and other foods associated with a healthy dietary pattern,” said Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and senior teaching fellow at Aston Medical School in Birmingham, UK.
“This could mean that it may not be an effect specifically of the ultra-processed foods themselves, but instead reflect the impact of a lower intake of healthier food.”
Risk increased with consumption
The ten-year study, published in the journal Clinical Medicine, looked at the relationship between eating ultra-processed foods and 34 types of cancer.
It wasn’t a small study. 197,426 people who were part of the UK Biobank, shared their eating habits and health outcomes. But it wasn’t just cancer that was discovered..
Cognitive decline linked to ultra-processed food
How much Franken food were people eating?
The amount of ultra-processed foods consumed by people in the study ranged from a low of 9.1% to a high of 41.4% of their diet, the study found.
Eating patterns were compared with medical records that listed both diagnoses and deaths from cancer.
10% Frankenfood = 2% to 19% cancer.
Each 10% increase in ultra-processed food consumption was associated with a 2% increase in developing any cancer, and a 19% increased risk for being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, according to a statement issued by Imperial College London.
10% increase in Frankenfood, 6% to 30% increase in death potential.
The study also found that deaths from cancers also increased.
For each additional 10% increase in ultra-processed food consumption, the risk of dying from any cancer increased by 6%, while the risk of dying from ovarian cancer rose by 30%, according to the statement.
“These associations persisted after adjustment for a range of socio-demographic, smoking status, physical activity, and key dietary factors,” the authors wrote.
When it comes to death from cancer among women, ovarian cancer is ranked fifth, “accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system,” ~American Cancer Society.
Simon Steenson, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said:
“The findings add to previous studies showing an association between a greater proportion of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) in the diet and a higher risk of obesity, heart attacks, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. However, an important limitation of these previous studies and the new analysis published today is that the findings are observational and so do not provide evidence of a clear causal link between UPFs and cancer, or the risk of other diseases,”
Slow Cognitive Decline
People who ate the most ultra-processed foods “were younger and less likely to have a family history of cancer,” Chang and her colleagues wrote.
Obesity and Low exercise
High consumers of ultra-processed foods were less likely to do physical activity and more likely to be classified as obese. These people were also likely to have lower household incomes and education and live in the most underprivileged communities, the study found.
“This study adds to the growing evidence that ultra-processed foods are likely to negatively impact our health including our risk for cancer,” said Dr. Eszter Vamos, the study’s lead author and a clinical senior lecturer at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health in a statement.
While the news is all bad, it’s not new.
A 2022 study examined the diets of over 200,000 men and women in the United States for up to 28 years and found a link between ultra-processed foods and colorectal cancer — the third most diagnosed cancer in the United States — in men, but not women.
There are “ hundreds of studies linking ultra-processed foods to obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality,” Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard professor emerita of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University said recently on CNN.
Yes, the new study cannot prove causation, only an association, but “other available evidence shows that reducing ultra-processed foods in our diet could provide important health benefits,” Vamos said.
Ian: I have been lucky enough to see this over 20 years ago and adjust my nutrition and lifestyle accordingly. It was obvious to me that Frankenfoods are absolutely bad for the body in a nutritional sense, but it was also obvious to me that the artificial chemicals we unwittingly but willingly ingest must have a deleterious effect on our bodies, and, like all such things, create inflammation. I am often dismayed to stand behind someone in a supermarket queue and look at what they have bought and their body health. It’s just too obvious. There are still some doctors who insist that the body is quite capable of adjusting to the excess of metabolic and food and beverage acids that flood our modern body, but I look at the man or woman in the queue ahead of me and can’t reconcile their claims with the proof right before my eyes. eating natural food has always made sense to me.
Our paleolithic metabolism hasn’t changed significantly for 100,000 years, and I’m reasonably certain that our ancestors NEVER ate anything like the rubbish that is labelled ‘food’ today.
And I’m certain that if they did I probably wouldn’t be sitting here writing!
Personally, I also believe that most people live in a state of constant dehydration because they insist on drinking almost anything with a brightly coloured label before they drink water.
I drink what I like to call Primal Water, simply because it is as close to the water my paleo ancestors drank in an unpolluted chemical-free world. It’s ultrapure, it is alkaline, and it holds the same sort of energy as the water that seeped from the cave my ancestors lived in!
And they did OK, right?