30-year study links ultra-processed food to higher risk of early death

Higher intake of most ultra-processed foods is associated with a slightly higher risk of death, with ready-to-eat meat, poultry and seafood-based products, sugary drinks, dairy-based sweets and highly processed breakfast foods showing the strongest association. Are. A 30-year US observational study shows. The results were published in the journal BMJ.

The researchers say that all ultra-processed food products should not be universally banned, but their findings “provide support for limiting consumption of certain types of ultra-processed foods for long-term health”. Growing evidence links ultra-processed foods to a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and bowel cancer, but few long-term studies have examined the link to all-cause and specific deaths, particularly those due to cancer.

To address this knowledge gap, researchers tracked the long-term health of 74,563 female registered nurses from 11 states in the Nurses' Health Study (1984-2018) and 39,501 male health professionals from all 50 US states in a follow-up study. . (1986–2018) had no history of cancer, heart disease, or diabetes at the time of study enrollment.

Every two years the participants provided information about their health and lifestyle habits, and every four years they completed a detailed food questionnaire. Overall diet quality was also assessed using the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI) score. During an average 34-year follow-up period, researchers identified 48,193 deaths, including 13,557 deaths due to cancer, 11,416 deaths due to cardiovascular diseases, 3,926 deaths due to respiratory diseases, and 6,343 deaths due to neurodegenerative diseases.

Compared with participants in the lowest quarter of ultra-processed food intake (average three servings per day), participants in the highest quarter (average seven servings per day) had a 4% higher risk of total death and a 9% higher risk of others. Was. Deaths, including an 8% higher risk of neurodegenerative deaths.

No association was found with deaths due to cardiovascular disease, cancer or respiratory diseases. In absolute numbers, the rates of death from any cause among participants in the lowest and highest quarter of ultra-processed food intake were 1,472 and 1,536 per 100,000 person years, respectively.

The association between ultra-processed food intake and death varied across specific food groups, with meat, poultry and seafood-based ready-to-eat products showing the strongest and most consistent associations, followed by sugar and sweets. Artificially sweetened beverages, dairy based desserts. , and ultra-processed breakfast foods. The association was less clear after overall diet quality was taken into account, suggesting that diet quality has a greater impact on long-term health than ultra-processed food consumption, the authors say.

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