A pair of studies linked this type of food to cancer, especially in people who consumed large amounts of it over their lives.
Many foods have been linked to cancer, but one food group continues to reappear as a risk factor. According to two new studies, processed foods like hot dogs and chips continue to be paired with cancer and having higher risks of death.
NBC News reported on these findings, showing why these studies are concerning when applied to the general population.
The two studies, one conducted in Italy and one in America, followed large groups of people and found consistent results.
In the study conducted in America, specifically on U.S Health workers that were trailed for a period of 24 to 28 years, researchers found that men who consumed high amounts of ultra-processed foods had a risk of 29% of developing colorectal cancer. And while the participants that were the highest consumers of ultra-processed foods ate about 80% of their daily caloric intake from that source, the national average in the U.S. is 57%. Not as extreme, but not that far off.
Interestingly, researchers didn’t find these same results when applied to women. One possible theory is the existence of estrogen, which might protect women from these adverse side effects.
Processed and ultra-processed foods are tough to define, but people generally associate the term with junk foods. Ultra-processed foods have even more chemicals and additives than processed ones, like microwave dinners and packaged sweets.
Another interesting finding is the strong link between colorectal cancers and these types of foods. Researchers believe that this is due to the stomach lining being the first element in contact with the foods.
“Diet is probably playing a role in the increase in obesity that we continue to see, and we know that obesity is associated with colorectal cancer and other cancers as well,” said Caroline Um, principal scientist at the American Cancer Society. “We’re seeing more young adults being obese [and] having things related to obesity, such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”
We all know processed foods aren’t healthy, but it might be helpful to learn just how unhealthy they are, with their effects going beyond our waistline. They’ve been previously linked with brain damage, cardiovascular disease, and more.
A study conducted in Brazil found that people who consumed over 20% of their caloric intake from processed foods experienced a faster decline in brain performance. Compared to the results of the study conducted on health workers, the evidence is concerning and something that may take decades to recover from.