Research recently published in PLOS Medicine gathered data on the eating habits of people from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands and found that ditching junk food and eating healthy foods can cut the risk of cancer.
After analyzing almost half a million adults, researchers concluded that food high in sugar, fat, and salt increases cancer risk by 11% compared to people who eat a healthy diet.
Researchers considered unhealthy foods like cakes, puddings, lasagna, biscuits, tomato ketchup, processed and red meat. They used the system provided by the British Food Standards Agency, which shows if a food is unhealthy by giving it a red rating. If the levels of fat, saturated fat or sugar are lower, they get an amber rating, and the healthy ones get green rating. Each type of food received a score.
A Poor Score = “A Higher Risk of Total Cancer”
The study found that people who ate food with a healthier score had a lower risk of developing cancer, while the ones with a poor score had a “higher risk of total cancer.”
The highest cancer rate was found in colon cancer, in the stomach and in the upper digestive tract.
Men were more at risk of getting lung cancer, while women would get liver and breast cancer (after menopause).
These ratings, so-called traffic light system was used on the pack labels, and the lead researcher of the study, Melanie Deschasaux (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research -INSERM), explained that it was relevant for the public to make better choices and prevent cancer or other diseases.
The study concluded: “In this large multinational European cohort … those consuming on average food products with a lower nutritional quality, were at higher risk of developing cancer overall.”
Professor Tom Sanders, who is a nutrition expert at King’s College London, explains that there are many other foods that can increase the risk of cancer:
“Even nutritionally adequate diets (i.e. those that meet all nutrient requirements) may increase risk of cancer especially if they contain carcinogens or are eaten in excess.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.