February 24, 2024

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Why is Ultra-processed food (UPF) increasing risks of cancer and death?

Why is Ultra-processed food (UPF) increasing risks of cancer and death?


Why is Ultra-processed food (UPF) increasing risks of cancer and death?

Half of the food you live on every day is quietly increasing your risk of cancer and death.


The results of the study published in The Lancet recently : this large-scale prospective study involving nearly 200,000 participants, including overall and 34 specific site cancers, showed that intake The more ultra-processed food people eat, the higher the incidence and mortality of various cancers! The Konjac Shuang in my hand suddenly loses its fragrance…


Why is Ultra-processed food (UPF) increasing risks of cancer and death?Screenshot of the research homepage


The most comprehensive study so far: the risk of cancer incidence and death can be increased by as much as 64% and 91%!


The burden of cancer continues to increase worldwide, and the number of cancer cases is expected to increase from 19.3 million to 28.4 million by 2040.

At the same time, about one in six deaths worldwide is attributable to cancer, and cancer has overtaken cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of premature death, especially in many high-income countries.


However, at least 50% of cancers are preventable, and an unhealthy diet is a key modifiable risk factor.

How UPF, which is popular all over the world, affects human health has attracted increasing attention.

Therefore, the researchers collected data from 197,426 participants from the British Biodatabase, and compared their UPF intake with overall and 34 specific site cancer incidence and death.

A comprehensive evaluation of the relationship between rates.


A total of 15,921 cancer cases occurred during follow-up during a median follow-up period of 9.8 years.

The age-sex-adjusted Cox regression model showed that the risk of cancer in multiple sites increased with the increase of UPF intake: for every 10% increase in UPF intake in the total diet, the risk of overall cancer and female ovarian cancer were respectively Up 2% (HR=1.02; 95%CI, 1.01-1.04) and 19% (HR=1.19; 1.08-1.30)!


In addition, the difference between the different UPF intake groups was more pronounced: compared with the lowest quartile of UPF intake, participants in the highest quartile of UPF intake had a 7% higher overall cancer risk (95% CI, 1.02- 1.14), 25% higher risk of lung cancer (95%CI: 1.01-1.57), 52% higher risk of brain cancer (95%CI; 1.04-2.23), higher risk of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma 63% (95%CI, 1.00-2.66).


Table 1 Association between UPF intake in total diet and cancer incidence.
Why is Ultra-processed food (UPF) increasing risks of cancer and death?

In terms of increased risk of cancer death, UPF is still strong: during the follow-up period, there were 4009 cancer deaths.

In the fully adjusted model, for every 10 percentage point increase in UPF intake, overall cancer (HR=1.06; 95% CI, 1.03-1.09), female breast cancer (HR=1.16; 95% CI, 1.02-1.32) and ovarian Cancer (HR=1.30; 95%CI, 1.13-1.50) mortality increased by 6%, 16% and 30%, respectively.


Compared with the lowest quartile of UPF intake, participants in the highest quartile had overall cancer (HR=1.17; 95% CI, 1.05-1.30), lung cancer (HR=1.38; 95% CI, 1.04-3.82 ) and ovarian cancer (HR: 1.91; 95% CI, 1.08-3.39) risk of death were 17%, 38% and 91% higher, respectively.


Table 2 Association between UPF intake in total diet and cancer-related mortality.
Why is Ultra-processed food (UPF) increasing risks of cancer and death?

Although I am shocked by the performance of UPF in cancer morbidity and death, as long as you don’t eat too much, the risk is still controllable! However, “not eating much” may be just an illusion, and the cancer-causing potential of UPF is beyond your imagination…




Healthy foods are similarly boring, but each UPF has its own cancer-causing secrets


First of all, UPF may be far more common than you think. This study used the NOVA food processing degree classification system, which divides foods into four groUPF based on the nature, degree, and purpose of the processing they experienced:

(1) unprocessed or minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk and meat;

(2) Processed cooking ingredients such as sugar, vegetable oil and butter;

(3) processed foods such as canned vegetables in brine, freshly made bread and cheese;

(4) UPF such as soft drinks, mass-produced industrially processed breads, packaged sweet or savory snacks, synthetic meat products, and ready-to-eat/heated foods.


Put simply, UPF is “most or all ingredients derived from or derived from food ingredients with little or no whole food.” That’s right, even bland sodas, “healthy” breakfast cereals, takeout The common pre-fabricated dishes here are all counted. So I want to avoid UPF, unless we cook and cook soup by ourselves every day…


As the main grouping basis, participants in this study had a mean UPF intake (g/day) of 22.9% of their total diet, with UPF intake ranging from 9.2% to 41.4% in the lowest to highest quartile .

Why is Ultra-processed food (UPF) increasing risks of cancer and death?Fig. Specific sources of UPF intake (g/day) in the overall diet according to NOVA classification.



In addition, the calorie proportion (kcal/day) of UPF in the overall diet calculated in this study may further highlight its penetration: the average calorie proportion of UPF is 48.6% of the total calorie intake, and the lowest to the highest four The quantile range is 28.4% to 68.7%, meaning it provides half of the energy we need for life activities! To a certain extent, we human beings are…


Secondly, under the glamorous appearance and brainwashing propaganda, UPF often only leaves us with a friendly impression of deliciousness and convenience, but hides the inherent characteristics of “technology and hard work”, such as controversial food additives, ultra-processing Newly formed contaminants and migration of toxic contaminants from food packaging.


New evidence from the NutriNet-Santé cohort shows higher intake of artificial sweeteners increases risk of overall, breast and obesity-related cancers;

higher intake of nitrates and nitrites from food additives increases risk of Risk of breast and prostate cancer; acrylamide formed during high-temperature cooking, high intake associated with increased risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer;

phthalic acids commonly found in food storage, packaging, and contact materials Salt and bisphenols are endocrine disrupting chemicals, and higher concentrations of phthalates and bisphenol-F were detected in the urine of individuals with higher UPF intake.

No previous studies have assessed the relationship between UPF intake and brain cancer, but existing studies have demonstrated a link to potentially harmful effects on brain function. Don’t you just sit down this time…


In the latest version (15th edition) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the highest level of the carcinogen report—the Class 1 carcinogen list, there are UPF itself, and there are also carcinogens that appear in UPF.


Again, the “two-way rush” with UPF implies to some extent our attitude of departing from a healthy lifestyle. Advice for preventing cancer emphasizes the importance of eating a nutritious and balanced diet, including eating more vegetables and fruit, eating less unprocessed red meat, and avoiding processed meat.

However, UPF are often high in calories, salt, sugar and fat, low in fiber and micronutrients, and have strong obesity-promoting and type 2 diabetes-promoting potential, both of which happen to be risk factors for many types of cancer.

Taking a closer look at the population characteristics of this study, compared with the lowest quartile of UPF intake, the highest quartile is younger, with higher BMI levels, less physical activity, and lower socioeconomic status… Isn’t this pointing to me?


It has to be said that various risk factors for cancer are often grouped together; although not intended, contemporary migrant workers are indeed frantically dancing in the minefield of cancer prevention…

In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that higher UPF intake was associated with higher overall and some site-specific cancer incidence and mortality.

Therefore, restricting UPF intake may be beneficial for prevention and reduction of modifiable cancer burden.

Although UPF has been seamlessly embedded in our daily life, we can still consciously optimize our choices.

For example, when buying bagged bread, choose whole grain bread instead of white toast; drink milk, choose pure milk instead of milk beverage; flakes rather than puffed or stuffed.




Kiara Chang et al, Ultra-processed food consumption, cancer risk and cancer mortality: a large-scale prospective analysis within the UK Biobank, eClinicalMedicine (2023). DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2023.101840

Why is Ultra-processed food (UPF) increasing risks of cancer and death?

(source:internet, reference only)

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