It’s no exaggeration to say that chronic underlying inflammation, inflammatory disorders, and autoimmune disease are some of the biggest health challenges we’re facing today. Scientists and researchers are even finding that heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States is more about inflammation than fat. And now, a new study published in JAMA Oncology linked inflammation-causing properties in certain foods to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

For this study, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Healthfollowed more than 100,000 health care professions for over 26 years. Those who ate the most inflammatory foods—like processed meats, sugary beverages, and refined grains—had a 32 percent greater risk of getting colorectal cancer than the participants who ate the lowest amounts of the same foods. Those numbers are really significant, especially considering the participants were followed for over two decades.

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