Consuming a high amount of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) may lead to an increased risk of mouth and throat cancers, a new study warns. The research, which analyzed the dietary habits and lifestyles of nearly half a million individuals over more than a decade, finds that those who ingested more UPFs were at a greater risk of developing cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract, including the esophagus.
UPFs, which include items like ready-to-eat meals, cookies, sodas, and chips, are already known to be drivers of obesity — a condition that heightens the risk of various cancers. However, scientists at the University of Bristol have now also connected these processed food products to an elevated risk of cancers specifically affecting the mouth and throat. The authors of the study suggest that this risk may be due to additives in UPFs and contaminants from packaging materials.
These products, despite their well-documented health risks, remain more affordable and convenient than healthier food options. Prior research has established a connection between UPF consumption and cancer, including a comprehensive study within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort, which explored the relationship between UPFs and 34 different types of cancer.
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