(Past research has found that Americans get 61% of their calories from highly processed foods.) In the new study, researchers found that, among nearly 150,000 French adults, a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in a person's diet was correlated with a 12% higher risk of cancer.
Food and drink suppliers have acknowledged that "more needs to be done" in tackling obesity and diet-related illnesses, but insist processed products "should not be demonised".
A NEW STUDY conducted by The British Medical Journal has established a link between highly-processed foods and the risk of cancer.
Foods on the list included packaged breads, buns, pizzas and cakes, crisps, industrially-produced desserts, sodas, fish and chicken nuggets, instant noodles and soups, and frozen ready meals.
Plans are being drawn up to restrict price promotions on foods by the Scottish Government and a new poll by Cancer Research UK has also found 62 per cent of people back the move.
The possible association between these foods and cancer was identified in the study, which examined the medical history of more than 100,000 people and was carried out by researchers based in France and Brazil.
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The results hint at a link between eating ultra-processed food and the risk of cancer, with the researchers concluding: "the rapidly increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the next decades".
Researchers saw this new cancer link when they analyzed 24-hour dietary records of almost 105,000 adults in the NutriNet-Sante cohort, a general population group in France.
These "ultra processed" foods - made in a factory with industrial ingredients and additives - make up to half of the average person's diet in some developed countries and could be contributing to rising cancer levels, researchers said.
Animal studies have shown that some additives are "quite good candidates" for being carcinogenic, Touvier said, "but that would need to be seen if they are also carcinogenic in the human population".
Also, they are unable to say which part of the processing chain might be responsible for any increase in cancer risk.
"Eating a balanced diet, avoiding junk food and maintaining a healthy weight are things we can all do to help stack the odds in our favour", noted Bauld. It ranked the participants by how much ultra-processed food they consumed over two 24-hour periods. Nutritionists recommend a diet rich in whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables instead of foods that have little nutritional value.