Bowel cancer and cardiovascular disease: Dietary choices…

Bowel cancer and cardiovascular disease: Dietary choices…
Bowel cancer and cardiovascular disease: Dietary choices…

People, especially men, who frequently consume highly processed foods face an increased risk of colon (rectal) cancer, heart disease and premature death, two new major scientific studies, one American and one Italian, show.

The “guilty” foods

Highly processed foods include packaged baked foods and snacks, fizzy/carbonated drinks, sugary cereals, ready-to-eat and reheated foods, which often contain high amounts of added sugar, fat and salt, while being deficient in vitamins and fibers. Previous studies have linked highly processed foods to a greater risk of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and some cancers.

In the first study, Tufts and Harvard University researchers, led by Dr. Lu Wang of the former’s School of Health Sciences, who made the relevant publication in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), analyzed data from three large studies in depth of 25 years, which involved a total of approximately 206,000 people, in which 1,294 cases of colon cancer were diagnosed in men and 1,922 in women.

The study concluded that men who ate a lot of highly processed foods had, on average, a 29% higher risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer in the future, compared to men who ate much less of such foods. But – for reasons that are not clear – a similar correlation was not found in women who ate a lot of highly processed foods.

“Processed meats, most of which fall into the category of highly processed foods, are a strong risk factor for colorectal cancer. Highly processed foods in general are high in sugars and low in fiber, thus contributing to weight gain and obesity, which in turn is a recognized risk factor for this cancer,” Wang said.

The strongest association between colorectal cancer in men and highly processed foods was found in ready-to-eat products based on red meat, poultry and fish. The risk is also increased due to high consumption of various drinks and juices with sugar. On the other hand, a reduction in the risk of this cancer was found, especially in women, who often ate highly processed dairy products, such as yogurt.

In the second study, also published in the journal BMJ, the researchers, led by epidemiologist Marialaura Bonazio of the IRCCS NEUROMED medical institute, studied data on almost 23,000 people with an average age of 55. Both the quantity and quality of food and drink consumed over the past 14 years were associated with the risk of developing heart disease or cancer.

It found that those who ate the least healthy diet, with more highly processed foods, had an average 19% higher risk of early death from any cause and a 32% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

The two studies reinforce the argument that it is a matter of public health to limit at least some types of highly processed foods in order to improve the health of the population. The key alternative, according to the researchers, is the promotion and easier access to fresh and minimally processed foods.

The convenience of pre-cooked and fast foods has increased the risks of bowel cancer. The researchers pointed out that “chemically processed foods can last longer on the shelf, but many of them are less healthy than unprocessed alternatives. Consumers need to become aware of the risks associated with consuming large amounts of unhealthy food and, in their place, to make healthier choices”.

Source: RES-MPE

The article is in Greek

Tags: Bowel cancer cardiovascular disease Dietary choices ..

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