New Study Links Ultra-Processed Foods to Colorectal Cancer in Men

  • Researchers have found that ultra-processed food items increase the risk of developing cancer of the colon in males but they didn’t find any risk increase for women.
  • Experts believe that foods processed in ultra-processed ways include oils, sugars, and fats, which can raise the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Additionally they claim that these foods are deficient in nutrients, which can aid in preventing colorectal cancer.
  • They further suggest that national programs which make it easier for people to purchase healthy food are needed to be developed.

There has been plenty of debate over the last few years on how much processed food could increase the chances of developing cancer.

A study called “Trusted Source” released last week The BMJ, a weekly medical trade journal published by the British Medical Association, provides fresh data.

Researchers from Tufts University and Harvard University in Massachusetts found that those who consumed a high amount of food products that are ultra-processed were at an increase of 29% of developing cancer of the colorectal as compared to those who consumed lesser amounts.

The researchers did not observe the same correlation in women.

Another study, titled Trusted Source that was published by the BMJ today revealed a connection between foods that are processed in relation to the chance of death from cardiovascular disease and all-cause death.

The colorectal cancer ranks as the third-highest-admitted cancer source within the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

Studies have previously connected ultra-processed food items to increased risk in heart health concerns and inflammation of the bowel or obesity However, only a there are few studies that have evaluated the connection between ultra-processed foods consumption and the risk of colorectal cancer.

The most recent findings were the result of research that was conducted on over 46,000 males and over 160,000 women in three major research studies that included U.S. healthcare professionals whose the intake of food was evaluated each four years with specific food frequency questionnaires.

What is processed food?

Many foods are processed at some extent, however foods that are ultra-processed are thought to be the most damaging to your health.

In the latest study this food group was identified as carbonated beverages as sausages, biscuits and sausages. They also include candy, instant soups and noodles, sweet and savory snacks in packaged form, as well as beverages made of fruit and sugar derived from milk.

The study found that these food items typically contain significant amounts of sugar, fat and/or salt, and are also deficient in fiber and vitamins.

The research team could not determine the exact mechanism that links ultra-processed food items to the rise in cancer risk due to colorectal however, the researchers have some theories.

“Ultra-processed foods are usually high in added sugar, oils/fats, and refined starch, altering gut microbiota composition unfavorably and contributing to increased risk of weight gain and obesity Weight gain and obesity are established risk factors for colorectal cancer,” said Lu Wang, Ph.D. who is a postdoctoral researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and lead author of the study.

“Ultra-processed foods are low in nutrients and bioactive compounds that are beneficial for the prevention of colorectal cancer, such as fiber, calcium, and vitamin D. Ultra-processed foods consist of (most) processed meats, which is an established risk factor for colorectal cancer,” she said to Healthline.

Beyond the poor nutritional profiles, Wang noted that ultra-processed foods typically contain food additives like artificial sweeteners and dietary emulsifiers Certain types have been found to boost the pro-inflammatory capacity of the gut microbiome which could encourage colon carcinogenesis.

“We do observe that certain subgroups of foods with high levels of processing. These include processed meat products such as salami, hot dogs, and sausages, as well as drinks that are sweetened with sugar, are especially linked to the risk of getting colorectal cancer.” Wang said.

The study provides further proof of the necessity for policies to restrict the consumption of processed foods and encourage eating minimally processed or unprocessed foods that improve health for the general population, Wang added.

Food programs that are healthy and nutritious

Wang has stated she’d prefer to see legislation national of some sort that requires healthier and affordable food items.

Wang says it’s important to provide healthy options and affordable to encourage people to switch out the processed foods with healthier products.

“We’ve seen programs like ‘produce prescription’ taking place to make healthy foods available and affordable for vulnerable groups,” she explained.

Wang said that front-of-package nutrition labels is an alternative “like the mandatory menu calorie labeling that has been taking place, which would incentive the food industry and food vendors to provide healthier food.”

Another thing she mentioned that definitely isn’t aiding the cause is “the continuing unregulated aggressive marketing of and the large subsidies received by the big corporations that profit from [ultra-processed foods].”

Carlos A. Monteiro Professor in the Department of Nutrition in the School of Public Health at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and co-authored the EditorialTrusted Source about this study, “The trouble with ultra-processed foods,” together with Geoffrey Cannon, the senior research fellow in the Center for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition within the school of Public Health at the University of Sao Paulo.

Monteiro stated to Healthline that another important problem is the unregulated commercialization of food products that are ultra-processed as well as the huge subsidies paid to corporations who make money from it.

“Everybody needs food,” said he, “but nobody needs ultra-processed foods.”

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