Consumption of ultra-processed food and risk of cancer

A new study bringing together researchers from Inserm, Inra and University of Paris 13 (Center of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics Sorbonne Paris Cité, EREN team) suggests a link between the consumption of ultra-processed food and the additional risk of developing cancer. In total, 104,980 participants from the French NutriNet-Santé cohort were included. During the follow-up period (8 years), 2,228 cases of cancer were diagnosed and validated. A 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet was associated with a greater than 10% increase in the risk of overall cancer and, more specifically, breast cancer. Out of the various hypotheses which could explain these findings, the generally poorer nutritional quality of ultra-processed food may not be the only contributing factor, thereby pointing to mechanisms involving other compounds (additives, substances formed during industrial processes, materials in contact with food, etc.). These findings, which must therefore be considered as an initial avenue of investigation in this area, need to be confirmed in other study populations. The causal relationship in particular remains to be proven. This study was published on February 15, 2018 in the British Medical Journal.