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Study Finds Link Between Ultra-Processed Foods and Cancer


French researchers found a link between eating highly processed foods and cancer. In a study of 105,000 people, the more of these foods that were eaten, the higher was the risk of cancer.

Processed foods include a huge spectrum of supermarket items that are very popular with shoppers. In fact, earlier research has shown that Americans get 61 percent of their calories from them. These include, but are not limited to, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, mass-produced breads, lunchmeats, packaged snacks, meatballs, chocolate bars, sodas, instant noodles and soups. The products typically contain an extensive list of additives, preservatives and artificial flavorings, as well as large amounts of sugar, fructose, fat and salt.

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A 10% Increase in Ultra-Processed Foods Linked to a 12% Higher Cancer Risk

The researchers followed the participants, which consisted of mostly middle-aged women, for five years. They found that a 10-percent increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods was connected to a 12-percent higher risk of any cancer. Eating processed foods regularly was linked to an 11-percent greater breast cancer risk, in addition to a slight rise in the risk of colon cancer.

Not all the foods posed an equal hazard. Sugary products, fats, drinks and sauces were more strongly tied to a heightened risk of cancer, while sugary processed foods were most closely associated with an elevated risk of breast cancer.

“These results suggest that the rapidly increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the next decades,” the scientists concluded.

An additional finding from the study may have contributed to the apparent cancer link. People who ate a lot of processed foods consumed more calories and were more likely to smoke, be taking oral contraceptive drugs and be less active, all of which are behaviors associated with cancer. Although the researchers adjusted the results for these factors, they said their influence “can’t be entirely excluded.”

The authors said further studies are needed to assess the health effects of eating processed food. To their knowledge, the study, which was published in the BMJ, was the first to examine the link between ultra-processed foods and cancer.

Why Are Processed Foods Harmful to Health?

Adverse effects of the foods are due to several factors. They are low in nutrients and fiber, while high in inflammatory ingredients such as sugar and certain fats. The foods also contain harmful chemicals that leach into them from the packaging, along with compounds formed during processing and storage.

Some research ties processed food to a higher risk of high blood pressure, obesity and cholesterol disorders. Other studies suggest ingredients commonly found in processed foods are carcinogenic.

Noted natural health practitioner Dr. Joseph Mercola says that the damage to health perpetrated by processed foods is multifaceted. He advocates spending 90 percent of your food budget on whole foods and only 10 percent on processed foods. The closer foods are to their natural state, the fewer harmful ingredients they’ll contain and the more nutrients will be present.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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One response to “Study Finds Link Between Ultra-Processed Foods and Cancer”

  1. […] Study Finds Link Between Ultra-Processed Foods and Cancer […]