Eating Highly Processed Foods Associated with Increased Risk


America has a sweet tooth—there is no beating around that bush. Sometimes it is hard to resist the lure of a freshly baked tray of cookies, or the appeal of a donut shop in the morning as you long for a cup of coffee. Sweets have a strong footing in our society, and as much as we may know that we aren’t supposed to eat them, or recognize what they are capable of doing to our waistlines, we also seem to let those hesitations go and feel for a moment like a young child, indulging in the beautiful feeling of being engulfed by a mouthful of chocolate.

Well, if your desire to lose weight isn’t enough to get you to step away from that donut, maybe a recognition of what that sweet tooth can mean for your overall health will help. A new study found a huge association between the consumption of highly processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods with a significant increase in cancer risk.

This study was dominantly concerned with foods like:

  • Donuts
  • Cookies
  • Muffins
  • Cake
  • Chips
  • Soda

Under no circumstances are these foods mistaken for being healthy, but they are eaten at an alarmingly high rate nevertheless. In many situations, these foods are consumed mindlessly, and so are eaten in high quantities without serving any greater purpose. This habit of mindlessly eating unhealthy foods has long been associated with the obesity epidemic in the United States.

The study was conducted in France on a massive population of participants of all ages, and found that eating foods that were highly processed, or foods that were rich in sugar and fat content, was associated with a significantly larger risk for cancer. Specifically, the researchers found that there was a 10% increase on average in breast cancer development for individuals who ate a diet rich in processed foods. Eating a diet rich in high-fat and high-sugar foods was also associated with an increased cancer risk, but not for any one particular type of cancer.

This generalized increase in cancer risk ought to lend credence to why it is so important to follow a healthy diet. Outside of any concerns for losing weight, eating a diet that is rich in lean protein sources and fruits and vegetables can help improve your overall health, reducing your risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease, stroke, and yes—even cancer.

What this study demonstrates is that staying cancer free is more about living a healthy lifestyle than it is about the luck of the draw. Your weight loss journey is about developing a healthier lifestyle, and cutting out highly processed foods is a great step to take on that journey.