French researchers have highly linked ultra-processed foods to cancer.

 They classified foods including cakes, chicken nuggets and mass-produced bread as “ultra-processed”.

A study of 105 000 people hinted the more of such foods people ate, the greater their risk of cancer.

A lot of caution is being expressed about the study, but experts said a healthy diet is best.

Diet is already known to affect the risk of cancer.

Being overweight is the biggest preventable cause of the disease after smoking and the World Health Organisation said processed meat does slightly increase the risk of cancer.

The team at Universite Sorbonne Paris Cite used food surveys on two days to work out what people were eating.

Those on the study, who were mostly middle-aged women, were followed for an average of five years.

The results, in the British Medical journal, showed that if the proportion of ultra-processed food in the diet increased by 10 percent, then the number of cancers detected increased by 12 percent.

During the study:

  • On average, 18% of people’s diet was ultra-processed.
  • On average, there were 79 cancers per 10 000 people each year.
  • Upping the proportion of processed food by 10% would lead to nine extra cancers per 10 000 people per year.

The researchers concluded these results suggest that the rapidly increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the next decades.

They however said the findings need to “be confirmed by other large-scale” studies and research was needed to establish what could be behind the link.

This study is far from the definitive take on ultra-processed foods and cancer.

It cannot say ultra-processed foods are a cause of cancer.