"American Ultra" is a 2015 black comedy about a mild-mannered slacker turned CIA hit man. That's a pretty good analogy for any super bland-tasting, squishy, white bread-encased, fast-food sandwich, because such an ultra-processed conglomeration is really a killing machine — just like Jesse Eisenberg's hapless character, Mike.
Three new studies prove the point. One, published in BMJ, found that high consumption of ultra-processed foods by men was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. And men who ate meat/poultry/seafood based ready-to-eat products and sugar-sweetened beverages were especially vulnerable, as were women who ate ready-to-eat/heat mixed dishes.
Among both men and women, the top 20% of ultra-processed food consumers were also more likely to be current smokers or to have smoked for many years before quitting; to be heavier; to get less physical activity; and to consume less dietary fiber, folate, calcium, vitamin D, and whole grains and eat more fat, added sugars, and processed meats.
A second study published in BMJ found that adults with the lowest quality diet and the highest intake of ultra-processed food were at highest risk for death from cardiovascular disease.
And then there's the study that found an association between eating ultra-processed foods and emotional distress. Researchers discovered that adults who ate the most ultra-processed foods had statistically significant increases in mild depression, "mentally unhealthy days," and "anxious days," compared to those who ate the least amount of the ultra-processed foods.