Does Ultra-Processed Food Gives You Colon Cancer? What Study Says?

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : September 7, 2022

You probably already know that avoiding too much-processed food can help you maintain good health, but did you know it could actually gives cancer? A new study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in France, found that men who ate more ultra-processed foods including foods like frozen meals, packaged bread and snacks, and ready-made pasta had an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, compared to men who consumed fewer ultra-processed foods in their diets.

 The increased risk was especially seen among men who were overweight or obese at the time they were diagnosed with cancer.

Processed food, which includes drinks such as sodas, is linked to a higher risk of colon cancer. The participants of this study who had the highest intake of these ultra-processed foods were 30% more likely to develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime, though not statistically significant.

 These findings still provide enough evidence to warn against overindulging in these types of products which often contain unhealthy fats and sugar.

An Association Was Found In Men But Not Women

It is found that men who ate high amounts of ultra-processed foods were more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than those who ate little or none. 

Is Ultra-Processed Food Gives You Colon Cancer

Men who ate high amounts of ultra-processed foods had a 27% increased risk for developing colorectal cancer, while only 9% of female subjects experienced this effect. These findings are significant because they help shed light on the potential mechanisms involved in the development of colorectal cancer. Further research is needed to confirm these results and understand their implications.

The effect was stronger among people with a healthy weight

Many people think that a diet high in processed food could lead to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, or cancers such as breast or prostate cancer. Recent research published in the International Journal of Cancer found a link between higher consumption of ultra-processed foods and colorectal cancer.

 The positive correlation between ultra-processed diets and colorectal cancer was highest among people with a healthy weight, not those who were obese or overweight. The findings support previous studies linking certain dietary patterns to an increased risk of colorectal cancer

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What exactly are ultra-processed foods?

The term ‘ultra-processed’ is a relatively new way of categorizing certain types of highly engineered convenience foods that are typically associated with increased levels of salt, sugar, fat, carbohydrates, and calories.

How to cut back on processed food?

These foods are ones that have been pre-made with little to no nutritional value. Often they contain a lot of fat, sugar, and salt which can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and more.

 In an effort to cut back on processed foods, start with a shopping list of all of your favorite meal ingredients – like lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It’s also important to stay away from any foods containing artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives as these additives can be linked to health problems.

 Many people have a hard time cutting back on processed foods because they don’t know what to eat in their place. To help, try incorporating a variety of healthy dishes into your diets such as oatmeal for breakfast instead of sugary cereal or steel-cut oats over fruit for breakfast instead of toast with jam.

Processed food may be impacting our health in other ways too

A diet rich in red meat is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, according to a large cohort study published in The BMJ. Meanwhile, an ongoing Harvard Medical School Nurses Study has found that a greater intake of well-done red meat is associated with an increase in the incidence of pancreatic cancer over 20 years.

Processed meat is any meat preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or adding preservatives, explains Euromonitor International’s Calvert. Smoking generates chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are carcinogenic if consumed in large quantities. 

They can also cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headaches, according to a report from Australia’s National Health & Medical Research Council.


🔵WebMD(2005-2022) Eating to Prevent Colorectal Cancer (Available Online):

🔵National Library Of Medicine (n.d) Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort (Available Online):

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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