Processed Foods and Cancer

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Eating “ultra-processed” foods—including packaged breads, snacks, baked goods, instant soups, chicken nuggets, and frozen meatballs—could increase your risk for developing cancer, new research suggests. A team of scientists at France’s Université Sorbonne Paris Cité analyzed the dietary records of nearly 105,000 adults. After tracking cancer diagnoses among the group over the course of five years, they found that every 10 percent increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a 12 percent increase in cancer risk. Ultra-processed foods are loaded with sugar and fat, and have fewer vitamins and less fiber than fresh foods. They also contain additives, including nitrates and artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers, and sweeteners. Certain types of plastic packaging could also contaminate processed foods with potentially harmful chemicals. The study’s authors caution that larger-scale studies are needed, reports BBC.com, but say their findings “suggest that the rapidly increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the next decades.”

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