Gutbliss - Dr. Robynne Chutkan


Ultra-processed foods tied to colon cancer in men

These results seem odd; why men and not women? Let’s take a closer look at this study. Researchers from Tufts University assessed the influence of ultra-processed foods (including sugar-sweetened beverages, ready-to-eat meat-containing meals, baked goods, etc.) on cancer risk in three groups of men and women. Food consumption was measured using a dietary intake form filled out by participants.

Results of the study showed that the overall consumption of ultra-processed foods significantly increased the risk of colorectal cancer in men, while in women, no clear association was found. The increased cancer risk persisted in men even after taking into account body mass index (BMI) and the nutritional quality of the diet.

So, why the difference in cancer risk between men and women where ultra-processed foods are concerned? Scientists who conducted the study are unsure, but they hypothesize that it may have to do with the different roles sex and metabolic hormones play in men versus women. While it may be tempting for those of us who are female to use this study as a rationale to consume ultra-processed foods without worry, remember, this is one study in a select population looking at one type of cancer. Previous research has shown an increased risk of cancer and autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s in people who consume ultra-processed foods regularly, and a recent study showed an increase in the likelihood of developing liver cancer in women consuming sugar-sweetened beverages like soda on a daily basis. As far as cancer risk and overall health is concerned, whole, unprocessed foods are still the way to go, no matter what gender you are!

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Dr Robynne Chutkan
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