Is Your Diet Causing Cancer? A new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention discovered that men who consume ultra-processed foods regularly have an increased risk of colorectal cancer, while those with low to moderate consumption had no increased risk. Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in adults, affecting an estimated 137 out of every 100,000 adults each year and resulting in about 50 deaths per day in the US alone. While colorectal cancer can develop slowly over time, it’s preventable through diet and lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise and not smoking.
There is a new study on diet causing cancer
A new study published in the International Journal of Cancer revealed that men who consumed ultra-processed foods are more likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who did not. This study is a follow-up to the previous research, which found that these food products were related to increased weight gain. Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer and also one of the leading causes of death from cancers worldwide. The researchers analyzed data from nearly 2000 participants and found that those who ate more ultra-processed foods had a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer than those who ate less or none at all.
The study also found that a greater percentage of vegetable consumption was related to a decreased risk for colorectal cancer, but not fruits. On average, men who consumed a lot of ultra-processed foods got 14% of their calories from these products. The researchers speculate that highly processed meals are higher in salt, fat, and sugar content which has been shown to increase one’s risk for colorectal cancer. However, they noted that further research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn on cause and effect relations between eating habits and colorectal cancer.
The results are surprising
A new study in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found that men who ate more ultra-processed food–foods such as doughnuts, processed meats, and commercially baked bread and cakes–were at a higher risk of colorectal cancer. The study analyzed data from over 10,000 men and found that those who consumed the most ultra-processed foods were twice as likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who consumed the least.
The findings are surprising, according to study author Pierre Franz, MD, Ph.D. Previous studies have shown that ultra-processed food intake is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This latest study sought to find a link between ultra-processed foods and cancer as well–specifically colorectal cancer. The study examined data from 10,099 men aged between 35 and 59 years old over a period of 19 years. All participants completed questionnaires about their dietary habits every three to six months for 19 years. At these points, men were asked how frequently they consumed 31 different foods–including non-ultra processed foods such as coffee or whole milk–over the past month.
This can be prevented
A new study has linked ultra-processed foods to colorectal cancer in men. Men who consumed more ultra-processed foods had a higher risk of colorectal cancer, and their risk increased the longer they ate these types of foods. The study is one of the first to examine how dietary patterns might impact the development of colorectal cancer in men. The findings are published online in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The researchers collected data on 2,237 male subjects between the ages of 18 and 90 years old. Of those subjects, 270 developed colorectal cancer during the study period while 1,967 did not develop it.
Subjects filled out a questionnaire at their first visit about how often they ate different types of food. Based on their responses, researchers determined that those who ate more than three servings of ultra-processed foods each week were at greater risk of developing colorectal cancer. After adjusting for other factors known to influence cancer development, such as smoking status and alcohol intake, a connection still remained between ultra-processed foods and colorectal cancer. The association was stronger among men who regularly consumed four or more servings of these foods each week.
What you should do about it
The study found that men who ate more ultra-processed foods had a 33% higher risk of colorectal cancer than those who ate less. Researchers speculated that because these foods have to be prepared with preservatives and other additives, they may contain more nitrites, which can in turn react to the amines in our food and form compounds called nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are known carcinogens.
This may explain why processed meat is also linked with colorectal cancer, as one study found that people who eat at least 50g per day of processed meat have a 20% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than those who eat less or none.
So what should you do if you want to cut your risk of colorectal cancer? The study’s authors say that, based on their findings, reducing the consumption of ultra-processed foods may be a good place to start. If that sounds difficult, here are some easy ways to reduce processed food consumption:
- Choose fresh or minimally processed foods over prepared foods whenever possible; for example, when shopping for groceries, try sticking with fresh meat and fruit instead of pre-packaged meals.
- Try going meatless at least one day per week by choosing vegetarian or vegan options instead of beef, pork, or chicken.
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