A cooked frozen pizza has been cut into slices. Two slices are missing.
Ready-made pizza is a type of ultra-processed food.

Ultra-processed foods increase the risk of cancer, according to researchers

Norwegian researchers have found that ultra-processed foods can increase the risk of certain types of cancer by 50 per cent.

“Increased consumption of ultra-processed foods significantly increases the risk of cancer. This applies in general, and particularly to forms of cancer such as breast cancer, bowel cancer, and pancreatic cancer,” Simon Dankel, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Bergen, told NRK (link in Norwegian).

Around half of the food we eat is ultra-processed, NRK writes.

10-20 per cent increased risk, on average

Food such as ready-made pizza, biscuits, sweets, and soups fall under this label.

The study from the University of Bergen is the first to gather all research on cancer and ultra-processed food and to view the results in context. The researchers have found and reviewed 11 research reports.

The average in the study shows a 10-20 per cent increased cancer risk due to this type of food, but some studies show up to a 50 per cent increased risk for some types of cancer.

The forms of cancer for which an increased risk has been found are breast cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

What type of food is most harmful?

The study was recently published in the international journal Clinical Nutrition.

It does not make any claims about whether some types of food are more harmful than others.

“We cannot point to individual foods. We don't know what in the ultra-processed foods is carcinogenic,” Dankel tells NRK.


Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik.

Read the Norwegian version of this article on forskning.no

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