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Study: Eating Highly Processed Foods Linked to Increased Cancer Risk
By Dawn Undurraga
The more highly processed foods you eat, the higher your risk of cancer.
That's the takeaway from a new study that followed more than 100,000 French adults for eight years. It found that a 10 percent increase in consumption of foods like soda, sugary snack cakes, processed meats and breakfast cereals corresponded with a 10 percent increase in cancer risk.
The study, published last month in the London-based medical journal BMJ, is the first of its kind to link increased cancer risk to all "ultra-processed" foods, not just processed meats. Ultra-processed foods are defined as foods that undergo multiple physical, biological and mechanical processes to be highly palatable, affordable and shelf stable.
According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, cancer is estimated to affect more than 1.6 million Americans each year, causing nearly 600,000 deaths. Dietary links to cancer have long been established, with about a third of cancer cases estimated to be preventable through more healthful diet and lifestyle choices.
Diets high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes are known to reduce the risk of cancer, while those high in processed meats increase cancer risk. Learn about EWG's Cancer Defense Diet here.
According to the study, ultra-processed foods make up a significant part of modern diets, contributing one-fourth to one-half of the calories of an average diet. Ultra-processed are often high in chemical additives and preservatives, and low in fiber, beneficial vitamins and minerals, and cancer-preventative plant compounds called phytonutrients.
In a podcast discussion of the study, the researchers said they really don't know the full impact of ultra-processed products on health. They hypothesized that these foods' low nutritional quality, coupled with the high calorie, sodium and sugar content, could contribute to the increased risk of cancer.
But those factors alone didn't account for the entire cancer burden. The researchers said that other contributing factors could be the prevalence of food additives in ultra-processed foods and the presence of other compounds created during food processing.
See EWG's Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives to learn which ones to avoid.
The science on the health effects of ultra-processed foods is just beginning to emerge. In the meantime, EWG's Food Scores can help you to steer clear of ultra-processed foods by revealing the degree of processing for more than 80,000 food products.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jeff Turrentine
First off: Bangkok Wakes to Rain, the intricately wrought, elegantly crafted debut novel by the Thai-American author Pitchaya Sudbanthad, isn't really about climate change. This tale set in the sprawling subtropical Thai capital is ultimately a kind of family saga — although its interconnected characters aren't necessarily linked by a bloodline. What binds them is their relationship to a small parcel of urban land on which has variously stood a Christian mission, an upper-class family house, and a towering condominium. All of the characters have either called this place home or had some other significant connection to it.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Thursday banning public schools or universities in the state from using Native American mascots, names or imagery. Mills' action will make Maine the first state in the nation with such a ban once it goes into effect later this year, The Bangor Daily News reported.
Inslee's 'Evergreen Economy Plan' Calls for $9 Trillion Investment in New Green Jobs, Would Help Fossil Fuel Workers Transition
By Julia Conley
A new climate action plan put forth by Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday is being praised for highlighting the enormous benefits that would result from a rapid shift in the U.S. to a renewable energy economy that centers on the needs of workers and vulnerable communities.