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Study Reveals The Ultra-Processed Foods That Can Cause Heart Disease And Cancer Health News

A groundbreaking study, co-funded by the World Cancer Research Fund International and other cancer research groups, has unveiled a significant connection between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and an elevated risk of concurrent health conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

The results of this study, published on November 13 in The Lancet, shed light on specific components within ultra-processed foods, emphasising the risks associated with processed animal-based products and artificial sweeteners.

Not All Ultra-Processed Foods Are Equal

Contrary to expectations, the study demonstrates that not all ultra-processed foods carry the same health risks. While items like breads, cereals, and plant-based products show no association with higher health risks, the focus on processed animal-based products and artificial sweeteners highlights the need for a nuanced understanding of different subgroups within ultra-processed foods.

Study Overview

Drawing data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study with 266,666 participants across seven European countries, this research emphasises the significant link between high consumption of specific ultra-processed foods and the development of cancer and cardiometabolic multimorbidities. The study sheds light on the importance of universal access to fresh and less processed foods based on these findings.

Lead study author Reynalda Córdova underscores the importance of recognising the diverse health impacts of ultra-processed foods, urging the adoption of healthier dietary choices. While acknowledging the negative effects of certain ultra-processed foods, researcher Heinz Freisling advocates for a balanced approach, emphasising that avoiding all ultra-processed foods may be unnecessary.

Choosing Wisely in the World of Processed Foods

Despite the known health risks, many individuals opt for ultra-processed foods for reasons of convenience, nutritional requirements, or economics. Registered dietitian nutritionist Kelsey Costa advises consumers to scrutinise nutritional content and processing levels when selecting these foods, advocating for whole and minimally-processed alternatives to mitigate health risks.

Specific Culprits: Ultra-Processed Animal Products and Artificial Sweeteners

The study delves into the negative effects of ultra-processed animal products and artificial sweeteners on the body. Animal products, high in saturated fats, are linked to increased LDL cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Artificial sweeteners, known for potential carcinogenic effects and disruptions to gut health, raise concerns about their impact on overall well-being.

Moderation and Mindful Consumption

While moderation may be acceptable for some, health experts caution against relying on ultra-processed foods as the primary source of nutrition. Instead, individuals are encouraged to adopt a well-balanced diet, rich in whole and minimally processed foods, to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases.


The study not only underscores the need for a discerning approach to ultra-processed foods but also advocates for recognising that not all of them are equally detrimental to health. Making informed choices and opting for alternatives that are fresh and minimally processed emerges as a crucial strategy for mitigating the risks of developing multiple chronic conditions.

This article was brought to you by HealthPlan, experts in expat health insurance in Spain.

Source: The LancetHealthLine