(HealthDay News) — Consumption of ultra-processed food is associated with increased risk of overall and breast cancer, according to a study published online Feb. 14 in The BMJ.

Thibault Fiolet, from the Sorbonne Paris Cité Epidemiology and Statistics Research Center in Paris, and colleagues conducted a population-based study involving 104,980 participants aged at least 18 years from the French NutriNet-Santé cohort. Participants’ usual consumption for 3,300 different food items was obtained from repeated 24-hour dietary records. Foods were classified according to their degree of processing.

The researchers observed a correlation for ultra-processed food intake with increased overall cancer risk (hazard ratio for a 10% increment in the proportion of ultra-processed food in the diet, 1.12) and increased breast cancer risk (hazard ratio, 1.11). After adjustment for several markers of the nutritional quality of the food (lipid, sodium, and carbohydrate intakes and/or a Western pattern) the correlations persisted.

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“A 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet was associated with a significant increase of greater than 10% in risks of overall and breast cancer,” the authors write. “Further studies are needed to better understand the relative effect of the various dimensions of processing (nutritional composition, food additives, contact materials, and neoformed contaminants) in these associations.”


  1. Fiolet T, Srour B, Sellem L, et al. Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: Results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort. BMJ. 2018 Feb 14. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k322