Eating junk food might be worse for you than you thought. In fact, some junk foods may increase your risk of developing cancer! According to a recent study, people who ate larger amounts of highly processed foods are at an increased risk of developing cancer.
How Big Of A Correlation Is It?
The correlation between highly processed foods and cancer is significant. In fact, it is thought that eating 10% more highly processed foods may lead to more than a 10% increase in cancer risk. Some researchers believe that many highly processed foods contain additives that have substantial carcinogenic properties.
What Is Dangerous About These Foods?
- Fats and Sugars: Even if it were not for the additives in these foods, ultra-processed foods are quite unhealthy. This is partly because they have high levels of fats and sugars. Many of them contain a large amount of saturated fat as well.
- Lack of Nutrients: In addition, they don't contain enough important nutrients. As a result, a person who eats primarily highly processed foods might find themselves lacking certain nutrients. It's possible that this may increase one's risk of developing cancer.
- Carcinogens: Furthermore, many of these foods contain compounds that are known to be carcinogenic. Some examples of these compounds are acrylamide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and heterocyclic amines. These compounds are commonly found in heat-treated foods. The packaging of certain foods contains additives that are thought to cause cancer. One example of such a compound is bisphenol A.
- Pigments: Certain pigments found in ultra-processed foods are thought to increase one's risk of cancer. Two examples of such substances are titanium dioxide and sodium nitrite.
What Is The Significance Of This Study?
This study is big news for anyone who is living in a developed country. In developed countries, it is estimated that between 25 and 50 percent of the average person's diet consists of highly processed foods. In fact, cancer is one of the world's leading causes of death. The increase in cancer risk that occurs with processed foods indicates that physicians need to emphasize that their patients should avoid these foods.
In other good news, CancerSEEK is a new type of blood test that can screen for 8 types of cancer.
- BMJ. Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from the NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort. 2018;360:k322. http://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k322
- Luiten, C., Steenhuis, I., Eyles, H., Ni Mhurchu, C. and Waterlander, W. (2015). Ultra-processed foods have the worst nutrient profile, yet they are the most available packaged products in a sample of New Zealand supermarkets – CORRIGENDUM. Public Health Nutrition, [online] 19(03), p.539.