Ultra-processed foods are linked to more colorectal cancer and heart disease

It is not the first time that a relationship between consumption of ultra-processed foods −made mainly with industrial ingredients− and various health hazards. Two studies published this week in the journal british medical journal (The BMJ) continue on this line and warn of your risk.

The first investigation, a work observational carried out in the USA, found that in men, the consumption of high rates of these foods increases the risk of developing Colorectal cancer. The research included more than 200,000 participantsthat were followed by almost three decades.

The risk of developing colorectal cancer was 29% higher in men who ate highly processed foods and drinks in large amounts.

The authors, researchers at Tufts University and Harvard University, both in Boston (USA), observed that the risk of developing this type of tumor was 29% higher in men who consumed highly processed foods and drinks in large quantities, compared to those who used them less. In women, on the other hand, the same trend was not found.

“Cancer takes years or even decades to develop, so it takes a long time to see a possible effect of consuming ultra-processed foods on your appearance,” he explains. Mingyang music, co-senior author and professor at Harvard. “That’s why it’s important long-term follow-up“, Add.

“Processed meats are a strong risk factor for this disease. In addition, foods made primarily from industrial ingredients have a high content of added sugars and low amounts of fiber, which contribute to weight gain and the risk of developing obesityan established risk factor for colorectal cancer,” says Lu Wangfirst author of the study and researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Tufos.

The results revealed differences in how men and women consume highly processed foods and the possible associated cancer risk. Among the more than 206,000 participants, the research team documented 1294 cases colorectal tumor between the masculine s 1922 among women.

The strongest association between cancer and highly processed foods in men came from ready-to-eat meat, poultry or fish products.

The team found that the strongest association between neoplasia and ultra-processed foods seen in men came from ready-to-consume products on the basis of chicken meat any fish.

“This includes some processed meats like sausage, bacon, ham and fish cakes. Which is consistent with our hypothesis,” says Wang. In addition, the researchers found that higher consumption of sugary drinkssuch as soft drinks or fruit juices industrialis associated with an increased risk of developing this disease in men.

In general, there was no evidence of a relationship between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and the risk of colorectal cancer in women. “The reason for this discrepancy is still unclear, but it is possible that the composition of food consumed by men and women is different”, says Wang to SINC.

“will be need more studies determine if there really is a difference according to sex or if the lack of association between colorectal cancer and the consumption of these foods recorded in women is due to other possible factors”, adds Song.

change eating patterns

O second jobbased on data on eating habits and health information of 22,895 Italians – with a mean age of 55 years and 48% of men – between 2005 and 2019, shows that those individuals with a diet that had more processed foods had a 19% risk greater number of deaths from any cause and even 32% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those who ate healthier.

The authors of the two new works consider that, given all the tests already accumulated in your adverse effectsmust be implemented measurements limit the consumption of certain types of ultra-processed foods, promote healthier diets and reformulate food recommendations, paying more attention to processing level.

It is important to continue studying the relationship between these diseases and diet, as well as possible interventions that could help improve the eating habits of the general population.

Lu Wang, Tufts University

“O chemical processing of food can help extend their shelf life,” explains Zhang, “but many foods and beverages made with industrial ingredients are less healthy than their unprocessed alternatives,” he adds. raise awareness the population about the risks associated with the consumption of large amounts of unhealthy foods, and facilitate the choice healthier options”, warns the epidemiologist.

The authors hope that these data will contribute to favoring changes in dietary recommendations and regulations. “However, a transformation the long term will require a multi-step approach,” says Wang. “It is important to continue studying the link between these diseases and diet as best we can. interventions that could help improve the eating habits of the general population”, he concludes.


Wang et al., Association of consumption of ultra-processed foods with colorectal cancer risk among men and women: results of three prospective cohort studies in the US. (2022) the BMJ

bonacci et al., Joint association of dietary nutrient profile by Nutri-Score front of-pack label and ultra-processed food intake with mortality: Moli-sani prospective cohort study. (2022) the BMJ

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