The BMJ reports a study done by French researchers has found a link between eating ultra-processed foods and cancer. Even just a 10% increase in ultra-processed foods can have an effect. They divided foods into 4 groups: unprocessed or minimally processed, processed culinary ingredients, processed, and ultra-processed.
Food prepared by adding sugar, salt, or prepared by industrially prepared is considered processed. Ultra-processed foods mostly are found to have higher content of total fat, saturated fat, added sugar, added salt, lower fiber, and lower in vitamins. Some may be packaged with bisphenol A (BPA) which interrupts hormone balance. They often have added ingredients that may not be even be considered food.
Examples of each group
Unprocessed or minimally processed: fresh fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta, eggs, meat, fish, milk
Processed culinary ingredients: salt, vegetable oils, butter, sugar, or other things extracted from food
Processed: canned vegetables with added salt, sugar coated fruits, meat products preserved by salt, cheeses, fresh made bakery breads, products made with additional salt, sugar or other items under the processed culinary ingredients category
Ultra-processed: mass produced packaged breads or buns, packaged snacks, mass produced desserts, sodas, sweetened drinks, meat balls, poultry or fish nuggets, meats containing nitrites, soups, instant noodles, packaged meals (frozen or shelf-stable), anything that uses hydrogenated oils, modified starches, flavoring agents, colors, emulsifiers, nonsugar sweeteners, cosmetic additives.
The study showed the 10% increase increased the number of cancers detected to be increased by 12%. On the average, 18% of the people studied had an ultra-processed diet and there were 79 cancers per 10,000 people each year. By increasing ultra-processed food by 10% would add another 9 people per year.