- Two recent studies have added evidence of how ultra-processed foods affect health.
- Men in the top quintile of U.S. ultra-processed foods were found to be at increased risk of colorectal cancer.
- Another study found that foods high in preservatives were associated with premature death, especially from heart disease.
Hundreds of studies link processed foods to health risks such as cancer, obesity and early death.
The latest evidence against ultra-processed foods (hot dogs, potato chips, frozen pizza, etc.) shows that eating too many unhealthy snacks not only increases men’s risk of colon and rectal cancer, but also heart disease. It has also been shown to increase the risk of premature death from For both men and women.
Two separate research teams analyzed the diets of adults in the United States and Italy. A US study published August 31 in the British Medical Journal looked specifically at the relationship between ultra-processed foods and colorectal cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, eating ultra-processed meats such as cold cuts and beef jerky has long been associated with bowel cancer. A recent study showed that eating other ultra-processed foods may contribute to that risk for men.
The Italian team not only tracked processed food intake, but also monitored the consumption of “poorly nutritious food” by more than 22,000 people over five years. Their findings, also published in the BMJ, show that ultra-processed foods are “most important in defining mortality risk,” lead researcher Maria Laura Bonaccio told CNN.
Ultra-processed foods such as fruit juices and bread
Processed foods, from fruit juices to commercial bread, often have added sugar, salt, and preservatives to extend their shelf life. While these foods may be considered unhealthy due to their high sugar and trans fat content, ultra-processed foods have reached another level of malnutrition.
According to a 2019 commentary in Public Health Nutrition magazine, ultra-processed foods contain more additives and “food substances” than whole naturally occurring ingredients and are more processed than food.
Eating a lot of ultra-processed foods is not only associated with a risk of premature death, but also with poorer mental health, including a higher chance of developing anxiety and depression, Nutrients reported this July. According to published research.
diet affects lifespan
An Italian study found that people who ate ultra-processed foods or whose diets were classified as “nutritious” had a higher risk of premature death and chronic disease. , echoes previous research linking ultra-processed foods to heart disease risk.
There was significant overlap in the breakdown of processed and non-nutritive foods, with over 80% of foods classified as “undernourished” also being ultra-processed.
This suggests that something is being added to these foods that impacts health outcomes. We have not yet determined whether groups are associated with different levels of risk.
A U.S. study found that men with the top quintile of ultra-processed food intake had a 29% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer compared with men with the lowest processed food intake. understood. However, the authors noted that men were more likely to consume processed meat, which may reveal a more specific association.