Eating processed food can increase cancer risk by ‘crazy’ levels

Most people steer clear of junk foods because they don’t want to put on more pounds. But the real health risk they should be worried about is how eating lots of candy, junk foods, and other highly-processed foods can increase the chances of contracting cancer.

Integrative medicine practitioners say that most cancer diagnoses are caused by the environment and the lifestyle of the patient. By adopting a healthier lifestyle, a person can avoid cancer. And one of the most important and effective lifestyle changes is avoiding processed food.

This is corroborated by data gathered from the NutriNet-Sante cohort over the course of eight years. Researchers evaluated the everyday meals eaten by nearly 105,000 participants.

They found that every 10 percent of a participant’s total daily calories that came from junk foods and other highly processed foods caused a 12 percent increase in the risk of cancer. The increased cancer risk was attributed to the lack of proper nutrients in junk food as well as the cancer-causing ingredients that are used in some of the foods. (Related: High-fat “Western” diet increases your risk of infectious diseases and food poisoning, reveals study.)

Avoid these processed foods and the industries that produce them

Candy and cakes are just two of the examples of highly processed foods that can increase the risk of cancer. The long list includes sodas and sweetened beverages, reconstituted meat products that were altered using nitrates or other non-salt preservatives, instant noodles and soups, and ready meals that are either kept in the freezer or can last up to several years on a shelf.

Processed foods also include products that are mostly or completely made from fats, oils, and sugars. There are also food products made from hydrogenated oils, modified starches, protein isolates, and other substances that may technically be edible but are not originally intended to be consumed as food.

These products often get cosmetic additives such as artificial colors, emulsifiers, flavoring agents, moisture-retaining substances, and artificial sweeteners. These additives make the processed food look, smell, and taste like fresh foods or minimally-prepared foods. They also help to hide any unpleasantness in the final product.

If food underwent extrusion, reactions with hydrogen or water, molding, frying as part of pre-processing, reshaping, and other industrial processes, it will count as processed food.

Shopping hacks for healthy foods in grocery stores

For people who want to make healthier choices in food, there are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind during the next visit the grocery store. First and foremost is to always go for whole real food that is fresh and natural. These healthy foods are usually found along the border of the store, where few shoppers bother to go.

Avoid any foods that are found in the middle aisles of the grocery store. They were placed there to increase their accessibility and not because of the benefits they provide.

Similarly, do not pick any food that has a very long shelf life. One of the original reasons for inventing processed food was to preserve the perishable product for storage.

Check the list of ingredients of a product. If it contains an ingredient with a fancy name that is hard to read aloud, it is probably a synthetic ingredient. Drop that food immediately.

Processed foods are intended to be addictive. That is why they are inexpensive, easily found and obtained, and cause people to crave for them.

Like all habits and addiction, the craving for highly processed food can be broken. Refuse junk foods, learn how to cook simple and healthy meals, and eat organic foods that are close to the natural foods consumed by early humans.

See for more news coverage of toxic foods.

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