Ultra-Processed Food Intake Linked to Cancer Burden, Mortality

Risk for cancer, specifically ovarian cancer, increased with each 10 percent increment in UPF consumption
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

MONDAY, Feb. 6, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Higher consumption of ultra-processed food (UPF) is associated with increased cancer burden and cancer-related mortality, especially ovarian cancer, according to a study published online Jan. 31 in eClinicalMedicine.

Kiara Chang, from Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the associations between UPF consumption and risk for cancer and related mortality for 34 site-specific cancers among 197,426 participants from the U.K. Biobank who were aged 40 to 69 years. Participants completed 24-hour dietary recalls between 2009 and 2012; food items consumed were categorized according to their degree of food processing. Consumption of UPF was expressed as a percentage of total food intake.

Among participants, the mean UPF consumption in the total diet was 22.9 percent. The researchers found that 15,921 individuals developed cancer and there were 4,009 cancer-related deaths during a median follow-up of 9.8 years. The incidence of overall cancer, and specifically ovarian cancer, increased with each 10 percentage point increment in UPF consumption (hazard ratios, 1.02 and 1.19, respectively). In addition, an increased risk for overall, ovarian, and breast cancer-related mortality was seen in association with every 10 percentage point increment in UPF consumption (hazard ratios, 1.06, 1.30, and 1.16, respectively).

"Our bodies may not react the same way to these ultra-processed ingredients and additives as they do to fresh and nutritious minimally processed foods. However, ultra-processed foods are everywhere and highly marketed with cheap price and attractive packaging to promote consumption. This shows our food environment needs urgent reform to protect the population from ultra-processed foods," Chang said in a statement.

Abstract/Full Text

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