Two studies see link between processed foods and cancer

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Two studies are reporting that reducing consumption of processed foods — including processed meats — could reduce cancer rates in humans, based on their separate research.

The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research found that a 10-percent increase in the proportion of processed foods in a person’s diet made individuals 12 percent more likely to develop all cancers and 11 percent more likely to develop breast cancer.

The five-year study consistently tracked the diets of nearly 105,000 participants, none of whom had cancer at the start of the survey. After the study period, they found 2,228 cancer diagnoses, including hundreds of breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.

This study primarily focused on “ultra-processed foods” including: mass produced packaged breads and buns; sweet or savory packaged snacks; industrialized confectionery and desserts; sodas and sweetened drinks; meat balls, poultry and fish nuggets, and other reconstituted meat products transformed with addition of preservatives other than salt (for example, nitrites); instant noodles and soups; frozen or shelf stable ready meals; and other food products made mostly or entirely from sugar, oils and fats, and other substances not commonly used in culinary preparations such as hydrogenated oils, modified starches, and protein isolates.

The results were published in the British Medical Journal.

Meanwhile, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast reported that nitrates used to cure processed meats like bacon can produce chemicals that cause a higher risk of colorectal cancer.

The report in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics showed a link between nitrates and nitrites used to process bacon and the development of known carcinogens that can cause cancer in living tissue.

The researchers noted that several other factors – the amount of nitrates added, the meat quality and fat content – affect the formation of the nitrate-associated carcinogen. The report also suggests that green tea polyphenols could be used as a healthier alternative to nitrates and nitrites used to process meat.


Source:, 3/20/18

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