How Ultra-Processed Foods Impact Colorectal Cancer Risk

A registered dietician stresses the importance of eating healthy after a study revealed how ultra-processed foods may increase colorectal cancer risk in men.

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CLEVELAND – Processed foods are convenient for a fast meal, but research continues to show how they can negatively impact our health. 

Recently, a study revealed ultra-processed foods might increase colorectal cancer risk for some people.

“Men actually have a higher risk when they have a diet pattern that includes a lot of ultra-processed foods,” explained Amanda Bode, RD, with Cleveland Clinic.

The study found men who ate the most amount of ultra-processed foods had a 29% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer when compared to men who ate the least amount.

Bode said the study did not find the same association in women, and it’s unclear why.

Further research is also needed to understand why eating a lot of ultra-processed foods increased colorectal cancer risk in men. 

Bode said one theory is additives and preservatives in highly processed foods may impact gut health.

She stresses limiting foods like processed meats, instant soups, packaged snacks and candy is better for everyone’s overall health.

Bode recommends eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to make sure you get the nutrients you need and reduce your colorectal cancer risk. 

“We’re seeing a lot more studies coming out that show eating healthy is important to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, and that’s especially true if you have colorectal cancer in your family,” Bode said.

She suggests trying simple diet changes first, like choosing a baked potato instead of fries and replacing sugary yogurts with Greek yogurt and fruit.

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