Regular Consumption of Ultra-processed food Increases the Risk of Early Death: US Medical Study

Ultra-processed food

A 30-year US study found that consuming more ultra-processed meals is associated with a slightly greater risk of death. The highest connections were found in ready-to-eat meat, poultry, and fish products; sugary drinks; dairy-based sweets; and highly processed breakfast dishes.
Although not all ultra-processed food products should be banned, the researchers state that their research “provides support for limiting consumption of certain types of ultra-processed food for long term health.”

Sugary cereals, carbonated drinks, packaged baked goods and snacks, and ready-to-eat or heat products are examples of ultra-processed foods. They are often low in vitamins and fiber and high in energy, added sugar, saturated fat, and salt, but they also frequently contain colors, emulsifiers, tastes, and other ingredients. Ultra-processed foods are associated with increased risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer, according to growing data; however, few long-term research have looked at the relationship between these foods and specific causes of mortality, particularly cancer.

In order to fill this knowledge gap, researchers followed the long-term health of 39,501 male health professionals from all 50 US states in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2018) and 74,563 female registered nurses from 11 US states in the Nurses’ Health Study (1984-2018), both of which had no history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer at the time of study enrollment.
Participants answered questions on their lifestyle and health every two years, and every four years, they finished a thorough food questionnaire. Another tool used to evaluate overall dietary quality was the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI) score.

The researchers found 48,193 deaths over an average follow-up period of 34 years. Of these, 13,557 deaths were attributable to cancer, 11,416 deaths to cardiovascular illnesses, 3,926 deaths to respiratory disorders, and 6,343 deaths to neurological diseases.
Participants who consumed the most ultra-processed food—an average of seven servings per day—had a 9% higher risk of other fatalities, including neurological deaths, and a 4% higher risk of overall deaths as compared to those who consumed the least amount—an average of three servings per day. Cancer, respiratory disorders, and cardiovascular disease fatalities did not correlate.

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