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Frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, etc. increase the risk of cancer

Frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, etc. increase the risk of cancer

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Excessive consumption of prepared foods, also known as “ultra-processed foods,” such as frozen pizza, may be linked to an increased risk of cancers of the mouth, throat and esophagus, a recent study suggests. Interestingly, research suggests that this risk is not solely due to the risk of obesity resulting from eating processed foods.

Scientists analyzed data from 450,111 adults over a period of approximately 14 years. They found that not only obesity, but also consumption of highly processed foods could be responsible for the increased risk of cancer. The results of this international study were published in the European Journal of Nutrition.

According to the German Nutrition Society, highly processed foods, also known as ultra-processed foods (UPFs), are finished products made by combining natural or synthetic ingredients. As a rule, industrially processed materials such as hydrogenated oils, glucose-fructose syrups or protein isolates are used in production.

Processed foods are harmful

The taste of unprocessed, i.e. fresh, foods is imitated by combining ingredients found in highly processed foods. These products are very profitable for manufacturers due to the use of inexpensive components. About half the population in Austria, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States eats primarily processed foods.

Previous studies have already indicated a link between consumption of prepared foods and cancer. A recent European-wide study looked at the relationship between highly processed foods and 34 different types of cancer.

23 percent higher risk

Researchers at Bristol Medical School found that increased consumption of processed foods is associated with a 23 percent increased risk of head and neck cancer and a 24 percent increased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma.

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In previous studies, consumption of processed foods has often been linked to obesity, as they can lead to increased calorie consumption due to their delicious, convenient, and inexpensive nature. Interestingly, the current study shows that the relationship between highly processed foods and upper gastrointestinal cancer cannot be explained by obesity alone.

The researchers suspect that other mechanisms could be responsible for this association, including the aforementioned additives such as emulsifiers and artificial sweeteners, as well as contaminants from food packaging and the manufacturing process.