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Eating Junk Food Linked to Increased Cancer Risk, Study Says

Groundbreaking Study Sheds New Light on Link Between Junk Food and Cancer

Groundbreaking Study Sheds New Light on Link Between Junk Food and Cancer

By Emily Joshu, Health Reporter

Published on April 18, 2024


Scientists have made a significant breakthrough in understanding the connection between junk food consumption and the increased risk of cancer. A recent study conducted in Singapore has shed new light on how specific compounds found in fatty and sugary foods can impact cancer-protecting genes and contribute to tumor growth. This groundbreaking research could help explain the rising number of cancer cases, particularly among young and seemingly healthy individuals.

Understanding the Mechanism

In their study, researchers investigated the effects of a compound called methylglyoxal, which is released when the body breaks down junk food, on a gene called BRCA2. This gene is crucial in defending the body against the formation and growth of cancer. The findings revealed that methylglyoxal can temporarily disable the tumor-preventing function of BRCA2, potentially leading to the development of cancer.

Challenging the “Two-Hit” Paradigm

Notably, this study contradicts the long-standing theory known as the “two-hit” paradigm, which suggested that cancer risk is only elevated when genes like BRCA2 are entirely inactive in the body. Instead, the research indicates that even the temporary inhibition of cancer-protecting genes can contribute to increased cancer risk. This seminal finding provides valuable insights into the complex relationship between genetics and cancer development.

Implications for Public Health

The implications of this research are far-reaching. It underscores the critical role that diet plays in cancer prevention, particularly in reducing the consumption of junk food. The study’s lead author, Dr. Ashok Venkitaraman, emphasizes that repeated exposure to methylglyoxal-rich foods, such as processed foods and red meat, can lead to the accumulation of damage to cancer-fighting genes like BRCA2. Furthermore, high levels of methylglyoxal are found in individuals with diabetes and prediabetes, further increasing cancer susceptibility.

Broader Context

These findings substantiate previous research suggesting the impact of diet on cancer risk, particularly colorectal cancer. Other studies, such as one conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, have found that individuals under the age of 50 who consume diets rich in red meat and sugar have lower levels of a compound that inhibits tumor growth. Collectively, these findings reinforce the importance of a balanced and healthy diet in reducing the risk of cancer.


The research conducted by scientists in Singapore unveils a critical missing link in our understanding of how junk food consumption heightens the risk of cancer. By elucidating the impact of methylglyoxal on the BRCA2 gene, this study emphasizes the importance of adopting healthy dietary habits to protect against the development of various cancers. As future research builds upon these findings, it is hoped that medical professionals and policymakers will have more targeted strategies to combat this widespread health concern.

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