READY meals and everyday food such as sugary cereals and fizzy drinks may cause cancer, new research shows.
The rapidly increasing consumption of such products ‘may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the next decades’, says the report in the BMJ.
It singles out ‘ultra-processed’ foods — also including packaged baked goods and reconstituted meat products — that are often high in sugar, fat and salt.
The findings are based on a study of 104,980 French adults, mostly women, who were tracked for several years after filling in dietary questionnaires.
A rise of ten per cent in intake of ultra-processed foods was found to be linked with increases of 12 per cent in the risk of overall cancer and 11 per cent in the risk of breast cancer. Dr Mathilde Touvier, of Sorbonne Paris Cité epidemiology research centre, said: ‘To our knowledge, this study is the first to investigate and highlight an increase in the risk of overall — and specifically breast — cancer associated with ultra-processed food intake.’
Child obesity expert Dr Tam Fry said shoppers should take heed, adding: ‘We should read food labels more carefully.’
■ THE risk of having an unhealthy junk food diet at the age of 13 rises eight per cent for every extra hour of TV viewed as a two-year-old, shows a study of 2,000 children born in the late 1990s. Prof Linda Pagani, of Montreal University, said: ‘This tells us over-indulgent habits begin in early childhood and seem to persist throughout the life course.’