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Highly processed foods driving increased overall risk of cancer

Increased consumption of highly processed foods may be linked higher overall risk of cancer, researchers say


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Increased consumption of highly processed foods may be linked to cancer, researchers say.

A study published in the BMJ journal says ‘ultra-processed’ foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the coming decades.

Researchers from France and Brazil assessed over 100,000 healthy French adults with an average age of 43.

359,960

There were 359,960 new cases of cancer in the UK in 2015.

Source: Cancer Research UK

The participants completed at least two online dietary questionnaires, designed to measure their intake of different food items.

The researchers evaluated potential associations between intake of ultra-processed food such as ready meals and the risk of overall cancer, as well as that of breast, prostate and bowel colorectal cancers.

Policy actions

Results showed that a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet was associated with increases of 12% in the risk of overall cancer and 11% in the risk of breast cancer. No significant association was found for prostate and colorectal cancers.

The authors said: ‘Rapidly increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer and other non-communicable diseases.

‘Policy actions targeting product reformulation, taxation and marketing restrictions on ultra-processed products and promotion of fresh or minimally processed foods may contribute to primary cancer prevention.’


Fiolet T et al (2018) Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort. BMJ. doi:org/10.1136/bmj.k322

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