A U.S. study linking diet and cancer risk found that an estimated 80,110 new cancer cases among adults 20 and older were attributed to eating a poor diet, according to CNN. Conducted in 2015 and recently published in the JNCI Cancer Spectrum, the study found that junk food consumption was correlated with higher cancer incidence.
CNN says that the researchers evaluated seven dietary factors: a low intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy products and a high intake of processed meats, red meats and sugary beverages including soda.
CNN reports that low whole-grain consumption was associated with the largest cancer burden in the U.S., followed by low dairy intake, high processed-meat intake, low vegetable and fruit intake, high red-meat intake and high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. Subjects who consumed ultra-processed foods were more likely to fall into these categories.
A 2016 study also found that 60% of the calories in the average American diet come from ultra-processed foods and that 50% of the calories in the average Canadian and UK diets come from ultra-processed food consumption, CNN noted. However, people who eat non-processed whole organic foods lowered their overall risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer, according to a study published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine. The same journal reported a 14% higher risk of early death correlated with each 10% increase in the amount of ultra-processed foods consumed.
Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, first author of the study and a nutrition and cancer epidemiologist at Tufts University, Boston, told CNN: “This is equivalent to about 5.2% of all invasive cancer cases newly diagnosed among U.S. adults in 2015. This proportion is comparable to the proportion of cancer burden attributable to alcohol. These findings underscore the needs for reducing cancer burden and disparities in the U.S. by improving the intake of key food groups and nutrients.”