Eating a lot of processed foods has been linked to an "increased risk" of cancer.

With the cost of living crisis and the fast pace of modern life, it can be easy to rely on ready-made meals and fast foods.

However, researchers from Imperial College London have now issued a warning about eating too many ultra-processed foods - including sodas, packaged breads, and cereals - claiming there is a link between such products and the risk of developing cancers.

"This study adds to the growing evidence that ultra-processed foods are likely to negatively impact our health including our risk for cancer. Given the high levels of consumption in U.K. adults and children, this has important implications for future health outcomes," said lead author Dr Eszter Vamos. "Although our study cannot prove causation, other available evidence shows that reducing ultra-processed foods in our diet could provide important health benefits. Further research is needed to confirm these findings and understand the best public health strategies to reduce the widespread presence and harms of ultra-processed foods in our diet."

For the study, the team analysed UK Biobank records relating to the diets of 200,000 middle-aged adult participants.

The study found that higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a greater risk of developing cancer overall, and specifically, with ovarian and brain cancers. It was also associated with an increased risk of dying from cancer, most notably ovarian and breast cancers.

For every 10 per cent increase in ultra-processed food in a person's diet, there was an increased incidence of two per cent for cancer overall and a 19 per cent increase for ovarian cancer specifically.

"Our bodies may not react the same way to these ultra-processed ingredients and additives as they do to fresh and nutritious minimally processed foods. However, ultra-processed foods are everywhere and highly marketed with cheap prices and attractive packaging to promote consumption. This shows our food environment needs urgent reform to protect the population from ultra-processed foods," added first author Dr Kiara Chang.

Full results have been published in eClinicalMedicine.

2023-02-08T12:32:26Z dg43tfdfdgfd