WEATHER AUTHORITY : Heat Advisory View Alerts

Eating junk food tied to higher risk of numerous cancers

You probably already know that junk food, though delicious, is bad for you. It can have negative health effe...

Posted: Sep 18, 2018 10:19 PM
Updated: Sep 18, 2018 10:20 PM

You probably already know that junk food, though delicious, is bad for you. It can have negative health effects such as increasing your risk of heart disease, metabolic disease and even cancer. Now, researchers have used a new nutritional labeling system to tie a diet low in nutritional quality with increased risks of a number of types of cancers.

The Nutri-Score logo is based on the British Food Standards Agency's Nutrient Profiling System, which is calculated for each food or beverage using a 100-gram content measure for energy (calories), sugar, saturated fatty acids, sodium, fiber and proteins. The profiling system has been used in the UK to regulate food advertising to children since 2007.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Cancer

Diet and nutrition

Diet, nutrition and fitness

Diseases and disorders

European Union

Food and beverage industry

Food and drink

Food production industry

Government organizations - Intl

Health and medical

Nutrition

Weight loss diets

Continents and regions

Europe

Northern Europe

United Kingdom

Company activities and management

Product management

Product packaging

The new five-tier nutritional coding Nutri-Score system, which calculates food quality using the same method as the British standard, is unique; unlike the British system, Nutri-Score uses both colors (from dark green to dark orange) and grades (from A for the "highest nutritional quality" to E for the "lowest nutritional quality") so consumers can understand the quality of a food at a glance.

Simple though it may be, the Nutri-Score system has not been adopted by the European Union or any other nations, according to Mélanie Deschasaux and Mathilde Touvier, authors of a new study on the system and members of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team in the Epidemiology and Statistics Research Centre at Université Sorbonne Paris Cité.

Higher cancer risks

"The Nutri-Score has received the official support of health authorities in France and more recently in Belgium. However, its application cannot be mandatory because of the European Union labelling regulations," Deschasaux and Touvier explained in an email. However, 33 food manufacturers and companies, including Danone, Fleury Michon and McCain, have begun to voluntarily adopt the system.

This EU review and debate process is expected to come later in the year, with adoption and implementation of a standard nutritional labeling system for all EU countries "expected to follow," according to the authors: "Similar discussions are also ongoing in North and South America, Canada, and Australia."

The aim of the new study, published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine, was to provide scientific evidence of the value of the British Food Standards Agency system as an underlying basis for the Nutri-Score system, Deschasaux and Touvier said.

The researchers examined the diets of 471,495 adults from 10 European countries through the Nutri-Score lens. They used the British Nutrient Profiling System to calculate a Nutri-Score for the usual diet -- the self-reported foods and beverages commonly eaten -- of each participant.

A total score reflecting a lower-nutritional-quality diet was associated with a higher risk of total cancer: Cancer rates among those with the highest junk food scores were 81.4 cases per 10,000 person years (separately, the rate for men was 115.9 and for women, 66.6), versus 69.5 cases per 10,000 person years (89.6 for men and 61.1 for women) among those with the lowest junk food scores. (Person years is an estimate of time for all the participants in the study that allows researchers to measure cancer risk regardless of how long a person remained in the study due to death or other factors.)

People who ate the most junk food showed a higher risk of colorectal, respiratory tract (lips, mouth, tongue, nose, throat, vocal cords and part of the esophagus and windpipe), and stomach cancers. Separately, men showed a higher risk of lung cancer, and women showed a higher risk of liver and postmenopausal breast cancers.

Because people who eat junk food might be overweight or do little exercise, and both of those qualities are linked to cancer, might the study's finding be a result of other factors and not diet alone?

"These analyses were adjusted for other individual characteristics that could 'confound' the nutrition-cancer association such as physical activity and BMI but also educational level, smoking status, alcohol use or family history of cancer," Deschasaux and Touvier wrote in an email to CNN. The adjusted result allowed the researchers to conclude that "a lower inherent nutritional quality of the food consumed was associated to a higher risk of developing a cancer."

"Overall, this adds support to the relevance of using [the British nutritional system] as an underlying nutrient profiling system for the simplified nutrition label Nutri-Score," Deschasaux and Touvier wrote.

'Protective' effects of a good diet

Gerardo G. Mackenzie, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of California, Davis, said one of the virtues of the new study is the large number of participants. Finding, once again in a study of many people, that eating junk food increases cancer risk substantiates all of the past research saying the same.

Mackenzie, who was not involved in the new research, recommended that consumers follow as many of the recommendations of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research as possible. One of the recommendations: Limit junk food.

"Each one of these recommendations has been shown to have a beneficial protective effect," Mackenzie said. "It is not a single one that will provide the benefit but several of them" as a whole.

Mackenzie added that more research is needed to precisely understand the ways in which high body mass, low physical activity and too much alcohol can counteract a good diet.

Deschasaux and Touvier concluded, "The association between nutrition and cancer (as well as other chronic diseases) is not new." Though there are other risk factors, nutrition ranks among the most important, because it "can be modified at the individual level and be targeted by public health policies."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 338079

Reported Deaths: 7523
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23409440
DeSoto23069280
Harrison20064328
Rankin15119290
Jackson14743251
Madison10806227
Lee10568179
Jones8864169
Forrest8408159
Lauderdale7684243
Lowndes6917151
Lamar683789
Lafayette6502124
Washington5551139
Pearl River5060150
Bolivar4923134
Oktibbeha484798
Panola4739112
Warren4690127
Marshall4670106
Pontotoc442873
Monroe4293137
Union429179
Neshoba4232181
Hancock417788
Lincoln4148116
Pike3605113
Leflore3587125
Tate351488
Alcorn346474
Sunflower344994
Adams338488
Scott336676
Yazoo335673
Simpson319290
Copiah319068
Itawamba312480
Coahoma311585
Tippah300568
Prentiss295063
Covington287183
Marion281780
Leake281575
Wayne274643
Grenada267588
George266251
Newton258964
Tishomingo238070
Winston236284
Jasper227548
Attala223373
Stone219437
Chickasaw217560
Holmes197674
Clay194654
Clarke184480
Tallahatchie182742
Calhoun179432
Smith177535
Yalobusha170240
Walthall144448
Lawrence140026
Greene137634
Amite135643
Noxubee134235
Perry132438
Montgomery131544
Carroll125431
Webster119132
Jefferson Davis114234
Tunica113227
Benton105925
Claiborne104831
Kemper101429
Humphreys99833
Franklin86723
Quitman84319
Choctaw81819
Wilkinson76532
Jefferson70428
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 574737

Reported Deaths: 11492
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson839571589
Mobile46611857
Madison36938532
Tuscaloosa26841465
Shelby26769255
Montgomery25853624
Baldwin24213326
Lee16897181
Calhoun15210332
Morgan14990289
Etowah14721369
Marshall12855235
Houston11661292
Elmore10727217
St. Clair10587250
Limestone10535158
Cullman10323204
Lauderdale10044253
DeKalb9335191
Talladega8797187
Walker7659286
Autauga7456114
Jackson7295117
Blount7233139
Colbert6614142
Coffee6117131
Dale5393117
Russell467742
Chilton4666117
Covington4623125
Franklin447281
Tallapoosa4420157
Escambia425282
Chambers3880125
Dallas3707163
Clarke366462
Marion3413106
Pike326979
Lawrence3211101
Winston293972
Bibb282965
Geneva274283
Marengo259067
Barbour245161
Pickens239662
Butler237672
Hale232378
Fayette225064
Henry206645
Randolph196144
Monroe195041
Cherokee194548
Washington179339
Macon168352
Crenshaw165058
Clay163659
Cleburne159945
Lamar149738
Lowndes144854
Wilcox129831
Bullock126042
Conecuh119530
Coosa116729
Perry109928
Sumter108732
Greene98336
Choctaw63925
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 77°
Feels Like: 87°
Columbus
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 87°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 78°
Starkville
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 87°
Thursday will be another very hot and very humid day across Mississippi and Alabama. Many areas will be well above 100 degrees with the heat index, some even as high as 120 degrees in the Delta of Mississippi.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather