Eating ultra-processed food could increase the risk of cancers, especially ovarian cancer in women, a new study has revealed.
The study conducted on over 197,000 people with more than half being women looked at the association between eating ultra-processed foods and 34 different types of cancer over 10 years.
The study which was published on Tuesday in the medical journal eClinicalMedicine, an open-access clinical journal, published by The Lancet, examined information on the eating habits of the 197,426 people who were part of the UK Biobank.
The study noted that the amount of ultra-processed foods consumed by people in the study ranged from a low of 9.1 per cent to a high of 41.4 per cent of their diet.
Over the years, eating patterns were compared with medical records that listed both diagnoses and deaths from cancer.
A statement made by Imperial College London on the findings of the research stated that “each 10 per cent increase in ultra-processed food consumption was associated with a 2 per cent increase in developing any cancer, and a 19 per cent increased risk for being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“Deaths from cancers also increased. For each additional 10 per cent increase in ultra-processed food consumption, the risk of dying from any cancer increased by 6 per cent, while the risk of dying from ovarian cancer rose by 30 per cent.”
Of note also is the fact that “these associations persisted after adjustment for a range of socio-demographic, smoking status, physical activity, and key dietary factors,” the authors revealed.
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According to Heath.harvard.edu, ultra-processed foods most likely have many added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, and artificial colours or preservatives and are made mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats.
These overly processed foods may also contain additives like artificial colours and flavours or stabilizers.
Foods classified as ultra-processed or overly processed include foods like pre-packaged soups, sauces, frozen pizza and ready-to-eat meals, hot dogs, sausages, french fries, sodas, store-bought cookies, cakes, candies, doughnuts, and ice cream.
Also, soft drinks, cold cuts, and salty snacks are ultra-processed foods.
Speaking on the study, the first author and National Institute for Health and Care Research fellow at the Imperial College London School of Public Health, Dr Kiara Chang explained that ultra-processed foods are produced with industrially derived ingredients and often use food additives to adjust colour, flavour, consistency, texture, or extend shelf life.
She, however, added that the different human bodies would react differently to these ultra-processed ingredients and additives as they do to fresh and nutritious minimally processed foods.