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Processed food, CVD & NOVA

Executive summary

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It’s been difficult keeping up with the diet and health studies recently. This week’s note goes back to the end of May 2019 to headlines about ultra-processed food being bad for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The headlines came from a French study, which was published in the BMJ and is on open view (Ref 1).

Several papers have already been published using data from an ongoing French population project, which is called NutriNet-Santé. The first paper (2010) described the study design and methodology and the fact that this would be a web-based population study (Ref 2). Most of the papers from the study have been published in 2018 and 2019 and they are now coming thick and fast. They cover very varied subjects from cancer (Ref 3) to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Ref 4) to pesticides found in urine! (Ref 5)

As I was writing this note, another paper was published from the NutriNet-Santé study (Ref 6). This one made the front pages in the UK “One glass of juice a day raises risk of cancer” (Ref 7). The relative risk for one 100ml glass of fruit juice and cancer was 12%. The absolute risk was 26 vs 22 incidents per 1,000 people. I’ll stick with covering the CVD and ultra-processed food paper from the NutriNet-Santé study – the same study history and limitations of epidemiology apply to all of the papers emanating from this French team.


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