Consuming more highly processed foods proportionately increases the risk of cancer, a study has suggested.
A team of researchers, led by a team based at Universite Sorbonne in Paris, France, examined the medical records and eating habits of over 100,000 adults and registered their typical intake of 3,300 different food items.
The kinds of "ultra-processed" foods associated with the increased risk of the disease included cakes, chicken nuggets, mass-produced bread, fizzy drinks, confectionery and processed meat. Generally these foods contain long lists of additives, flavorings and preservatives as well as high levels of sugar, fat and salt.
The results, published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal, showed that a 10 percent increase in the amount of ultra-processed foods in a person's diet was linked to a 12 percent increase in cancers of some kind.
The study has prompted health experts to urge caution at its findings, while also stressing a healthy and balanced diet is best.
Processed foods were found to make up to 50 percent of the average person's diet in several developed countries, the study said, and could be contributing to rising cancer levels.
"If confirmed in other populations and settings, these results suggest that the rapidly increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the next decades," the researchers said.