For this study, researchers used U.K. Biobank records to analyze the diets of 200,000 middle-aged adults. Scientists reviewed participants’ health over a 10-year time span, looking to see if they specifically developed 34 different types of cancer.
Upon review, the research team found people with higher consumption of ultra-processed foods had a greater risk of developing cancer overall.
For every 10% increase in ultra-processed food in a person’s diet, that person had a 2% increased risk of developing cancer overall.
Additionally, researchers found for every 10% increase in ultra-processed food consumption, a person increased their overall cancer death risk by 6%.
“The findings of this study on overall cancer risk are in line with what we know about the importance of a healthy diet in reducing our cancer risk,” Dr. Eszter Vamos, a clinical senior lecturer in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London and lead/senior author of this study told Medical News Today.
“There are many potential ways ultra-processed foods may increase cancer risk, and we need further research to better understand these,” she continued.
“UPFs have poor nutritional quality, are often high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats and low in fiber, and promote obesity, which is in itself a risk factor for many types of cancers. Ultra-processed foods may also contain potentially cancer-causing agents such as some controversial food additives, chemicals generated during food processing, and chemicals from packaging.”
— Dr. Eszter Vamos