Elevated consumption of ultra-processed foods is strongly associated with colon cancer

Cáncer colorrectal

Elevated consumption of ultra-processed foods is strongly associated with colon cancer


Colon cancer by the numbers 

 In 2018, more than 37,000 cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed in Spain. It is the most common tumor and the second most fatal in the Spanish population.  

The incidence of this type of tumor is increasing, and SEOM estimates that 44,231 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in Spain in 2020. 


Alarming increase in cases among young people 

 The main risk factor for colorectal cancer is age. In fact, most cases are found in people over the age of 50. 

However, in recent years, an increasing number of cases have been detected in young adults under 50, and even in people 30 years of age. By 2030, diagnoses in people under 50 are expected to account for 20% of all cases. 

In the U.S., the rise in these cases is so alarming that they are studying whether to lower the age for initiating colorectal cancer screening to 45, instead of at age 50. 


Diets rich in ultra-processed foods 

 According to the World Cancer Research Fund, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity account for 70-90% of all colorectal cancer cases. Genetic causes account for only 10-30% of cases.  

A recent study has shown that an elevated intake of ultra-processed foods is strongly and independently associated with colon cancer, especially advanced and proximal adenoma. These foods are very present in the diets of the Western population, especially among the young, and are characterized by containing high amounts of refined vegetable oils, refined sugars, salt and other additives such as glutamate.  

The problem with ultra-processed foods is that because of their extensive list of ingredients, they cause addiction in consumers by displacing the consumption of other healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables. 





Las cifras del cáncer en España 2020. SEOM. 

How diet, nutrition and physical activity affect colorectal (bowel) cancer risk. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/colorectal-cancer 

  1. Fliss-Isakov, et al.Ultra-Processed Food Intake and Smoking Interact in Relation with Colorectal Adenomas. Nutrients 2020, 12, 3507; doi:10.3390/nu12113507. 

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