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We already knew overly processed foods were a problem for our health but could they be contributing to cancer? Here is what you need to know.

A more recent study that was published in the British Medical Journal has managed to find some very interesting links between cancer and what one would consider ultra-processed foods. For those who may be wondering, ultra-processed foods would include things like instant noodles, sodas, and frozen meals.

This information comes from researchers at the Sorbonne in Paris. They took the time to look at the medical records and assess the eating habits of over 100,000 middle-aged people. Yes, that is a lot of people. These things led them to notice an almost 10 percent increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in a person’s diet in correlation to a 12 percent higher risk of cancer.

Their results and conclusion were as follows:

Ultra-processed food intake was associated with higher overall cancer risk (n=2228 cases; hazard ratio for a 10% increment in the proportion of ultra-processed food in the diet 1.12 (95% confidence interval 1.06 to 1.18); P for trend<0.001) and breast cancer risk (n=739 cases; hazard ratio 1.11 (1.02 to 1.22); P for trend=0.02). These results remained statistically significant after adjustment for several markers of the nutritional quality of the diet (lipid, sodium, and carbohydrate intakes and/or a Western pattern derived by principal component analysis).

In this large prospective study, a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet was associated with a significant increase of greater than 10% in risks of overall and breast cancer. Further studies are needed to better understand the relative effect of the various dimensions of processing (nutritional composition, food additives, contact materials, and neoformed contaminants) in these associations.

Cancer is a huge problem in the world today and is very clearly an issue here in the US. Things like this are important and in the future could help us to figure out where we need to go from here. Ultra-processed foods contribute to between 25 and 50 percent of our total daily energy intake, and that is not a good thing.

Trends like this need to be investigated on a much more intense level. While this is a fairly new kind of research, it is something we need more of. There are not enough studies out there on ultra-processed foods or processed foods in general for that matter.

What do you think about all of this? Are processed foods really causing as much damage as they appear to be?