Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at how much fast food we’re actually consuming, new stats on the increased risk of breast cancer from processed meats, the health benefits of a happy marriage, and a new treatment for cancer.

Supersize me

Fast food is not just an occasional guilty pleasure in this country. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in CNN shows how big a part it has become of the American diet on a daily basis. Between 2013 and 2016, more than a third of the population, or 37 percent of U.S. adults (84.8 million people), consumed fast food on any given day.

Experts say that the statistic helps explain the obesity epidemic in this country, as fast foods tend to be higher in calories, fat, salt and sugar, which—when consumed in excess—can lead to high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

And hot dogs not healthy either …

A new review of published studies in the International Journal of Cancer found that consuming high levels of processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, sausages, salami and ham was associated with a 9 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared with women who infrequently ate these foods, according to The New York Times. The study of 1 million women backs up the World Health Organization’s earlier findings, which said processed meats cause cancer.

The analysis of 16 observational studies found that consuming 25 to 30 grams a day of these foods on average was linked with a 9 percent increased risk for breast cancer compared to those who ate the least 0 to 2 grams a day.

It’s still unclear what causes this increased risk. Some speculate that it might be the preservatives. But in any case, researchers say it’s a good idea for women to cut down on processed meats.

Happy wife, long life?

Married people who rated their relationships as “very happy” or “pretty happy” had roughly 20 percent lower odds of dying early than people who said their marriages were “not too happy,” according to a recent study summarized in Time. The work, published in the journal Health Psychology, expands on existing studies that have linked marriage to a number of positive health outcomes, from a healthy heart to a trimmer waistline.

The results from interviews of 19,000 married couples held true across age, gender, race, education and geographic area. It did not compare how happy couples’ longevity compared with singles.

Analysts credit the social support of a strong marriage with added protection from daily stressors and improved mental health. Caring partners also may provide needed encouragement to adopt healthy habits, such as eating well, seeing a doctor or exercising regularly.

This is great news if your relationship is strong, but if you and your spouse or partner are constantly fighting, experts say the union may actually be doing your health more harm. Unhappy marriages have been linked to everything from a higher risk of heart disease to high blood pressure.

A Nobel for cancer’s new foe

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded Monday to cancer researchers James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo, whose studies led to a groundbreaking new class of drugs called checkpoint inhibitors that help disengage the “brakes” or restraints that keep the immune system from fighting the deadly disease, according to the BBC.

These drugs are now the fourth pillar of cancer treatment behind surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and they have proved helpful in treating advanced melanoma, bladder and lung cancers.

Photo credit: lavizzara, Adobe Stock