You have probably heard about processed foods being connected to causing cancer. But did you know that a 10% dietary increase in highly processed foods increases the risk of cancer by 12%? That’s the reality.
Processed foods are believed to increase your risk of getting cancer and has been linked to increases in the following cancers: breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and other cancers. Before we get into the details of these foods and the link to increased risks of getting cancer, do you know what processed foods are?
What are processed foods?
Sounds like a simple question but most people think of processed foods to be ‘microwave meals and other ready meals,’ however, that is not completely true. Processed foods are foods that are in any way altered during preparation through canning, baking, freezing or drying.
They can taste good and are convenient, but we cannot overlook the fact that most of them are loaded with high sugar, salt and fat. They lack fibre, vitamins and other nutrients that are good for the body. Processed foods also contain modified starch, hydrated oils, colorants, emulsifiers, sweeteners and other additives which are not good for the body. These foods are believed to increase the risk for obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Obesity and overweightness on the other hand, increase the risk for a number of cancers like breast cancer, prostate and colon cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer alone can be increased by up to 11% through the increased intake of processed foods.
Why are processed foods an issue?
The world today, and especially in developed countries, about 50% of their daily diet is made up of processed food. It is quite understandable why that is possible; processed foods are not just tasty but easily accessible and with today’s busy lifestyle, convenience foods are just what most people “need”.
Baked bread and buns, cookies and snacks to take you through the day. You forget about having to leave work at lunch hour to get something to eat. You can walk into a fast food restaurant and get dinner quickly or even better, having someone deliver the food to your doorstep. Without realizing, we immerse ourselves in this unhealthy lifestyle that in the end can lead to health conditions that will require more resources to treat.
The fact that many people in developed countries have a high percentage of their every day diet filled with processed foods does not mean that developing countries only have a plant-based diet. The contrary is true. The consumption of processed foods in developing nations is increasing daily, especially with the rising cost of living and the easy accessibility of processed foods.
Fast food restaurants have become a booming business and in turn, fitness businesses are also gaining popularity because with increased processed food consumption, comes increased weight issues.
What kind of foods are processed?
Processed foods are not only those found at fast food restaurants like fries, pizza, burgers, etc. Even white bread, biscuits and cakes, soft drinks, cheese, tinned vegetables, snacks like crisps and many others are also processed foods.
The low nutritional value of most processed foods is not the only factor involved in the relationship between processed foods and cancer.
Many researchers have linked processed foods with cancer, but no study explains why these foods increase the risk for cancer. It remains a mystery which needs more research, but the truth is that they do increase our risks of getting cancer.
Is eating processed foods worth it?
So, if you are a lover of processed foods, then you might just want to pass on these foods at the supermarket and probably get to the fresh fruit and vegetables section. More and more studies continue to insist on the need to eat more plant-based foods; vegetables and fruits which enhance the body’s immune system. To some, they may not be tasty like the easily accessible and affordable processed foods; but their nutritious value is essential to a functioning body.
Remember that cheap can be expensive. Is it worth it to enjoy the affordable processed foods which in the end may lead to you using a lot of money for treatment for the conditions those very foods bring about?
Maybe a better question is, if you had one known way to reduce your chances of developing cancer, would you make use of it?
We are not saying to never eat processed foods again, as with everything in life moderation is important and so is a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
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