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Study Links Ultraprocessed Foods and Ice Cream Consumption to Increased Mortality in Colorectal Cancer Survivors

by Alice

A recent study published in eClinicalMedicine highlights the association between higher mortality rates in colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors and an elevated intake of ice cream or sherbet and ultraprocessed foods (UPFs).

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In the United States, CRC remains one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths, with an estimated 53,000 deaths attributed to the disease in 2023. While advancements in early detection and treatment have increased the number of CRC survivors, emerging evidence underscores the role of diet as a modifiable factor in preventing recurrence, comorbidities, and premature mortality among CRC patients.

Ultraprocessed foods, which constitute approximately 60% of daily caloric intake for Americans, have been linked to a heightened risk of developing CRC. However, there is a dearth of data regarding the impact of UPFs on survival outcomes in CRC patients. This study aimed to explore the association between UPFs and mortality rates in CRC survivors, as well as their predisposition to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) post-diagnosis.

The study utilized data from two U.S. prospective cohorts: the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). Participants completed questionnaires at baseline and provided dietary information every four years using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). The analysis included 2,498 cases of CRC, with participants reporting their dietary habits and health status until December 2016.

Findings revealed that higher UPF consumption post-diagnosis was associated with increased mortality due to CVD (HR, 1.80; 95% CI, 1.31-2.47), a correlation that remained significant after multivariable adjustment (HR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.13-2.40). Conversely, reducing UPF intake post-diagnosis was linked to lower mortality rates related to CVD (HR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.45-0.92).

Furthermore, elevated consumption of fats/condiments/sauces was associated with increased mortality from CVD (HR, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.41-2.73), while higher intake of flavored yogurt and dairy-based desserts, including ice cream and sherbet, correlated with elevated mortality related to CRC (HR, 1.86; 95% CI, 1.33-2.61).

Despite the robust findings, the study acknowledges several limitations, including the absence of detailed treatment and recurrence data, as well as the observational nature of the study, which may introduce bias.

In conclusion, the study underscores the detrimental effects of UPFs on mortality rates in CRC survivors, emphasizing the importance of dietary modifications to improve prognosis and overall health outcomes.

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