Men living in the United States who regularly eat ultra-processed foods such as sodas, ice cream, sausage, and deep-fried chicken, are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
A study published on Wednesday in The BMJ indicates that U.S. men are at 29% greater risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer if they consume large amounts of processed foods. Women, on the other hand, did not follow the same pattern, according to the study.
One of the leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide is colorectal cancer. Moreover, over half of the daily calories that are consumed by U.S. adults originate in ultra-processed foods.
“Processed meats, most of which fall into the category of ultra-processed foods, are a strong risk factor for colorectal cancer,” said the study’s author Lu Wang explained lead study author Lu Wang, a postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, in a statement. “Ultra-processed foods are also high in added sugars and low in fiber, which contribute to weight gain and obesity, and obesity is an established risk factor for colorectal cancer.”
Researchers analyzed data from three other studies that included 200,000 men and women in the U.S. Every four years, the participants filled out a questionnaire that asked how often they would eat certain foods. Approximately 46,341 men and 159,907 women were included in this study, with 1,294 cases of colorectal cancer occurring in the men compared to 1,922 in women between 24 and 28 years.
After adjusting for body mass index, the researcher determined that men who consumed the highest amounts of ultra-processed foods had a higher risk of being diagnosed with that particular cancer. The biggest risks for men were increased consumption of sugar-enriched drinks such as sweet tea and soda, along with meat, poultry, and seafood.
The study could not determine the lack of association between cancer and consumption of highly processed foods in women.