iarc newsletter
Donate now
14 November 2023
Dietary exposures

Ultra-processed foods are associated with increased risk of cancer and cardiometabolic multimorbidity

In a ground-breaking multinational study, researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in collaboration with the University of Vienna (Austria), have found that a higher consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with an increased risk of cancer and cardiometabolic multimorbidity. The study was published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe.

The study is based on data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) and involves 266 666 men and women from seven European countries, where the consumption of ultra-processed foods is currently estimated at more than half of a person’s daily food intake. The researchers discovered that increased consumption of ultra-processed foods is linked to an elevated risk of multimorbidity involving cancer and cardiometabolic diseases.

Associations were specifically noted with animal-based products and artificially sweetened beverages (e.g. soft drinks). Ultra-processed foods are convenient (durable, ready to eat) industrially manufactured foods with added ingredients or additives (e.g. modified starch, hydrogenated oils) that are typically not available for food preparation at home or at artisanal restaurants or companies. Examples are soft drinks, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, processed meat, pre-prepared frozen or shelf-stable dishes, and sweetened breakfast cereals.

Multimorbidity is a growing health problem not only in Europe but in many world regions, including low- and middle-income countries. The findings of this study can inform preventive strategies for reducing the risk of multimorbidity from cancer and cardiometabolic diseases through dietary recommendations, health policies, and other interventions.

Cordova R, Viallon V, Fontvieille E, Peruchet-Noray L, Jansana A, Wagner K-H, et al.
Consumption of ultra-processed foods and risk of multimorbidity of cancer and cardiometabolic diseases: a multinational cohort study
Lancet Reg Health Eur, Published online 13 November 2023;

Read the article

Publication status

Published in section: IARC News

Publication date: 14 November, 2023, 0:13

Direct link: https://www.iarc.who.int/news-events/ultra-processed-foods-are-associated-with-increased-risk-of-cancer-and-cardiometabolic-multimorbidity/

© Copyright International Agency on Research for Cancer 2023

Other news