French researchers are claiming a link between highly processed foods and cancer.

A study of 105,000 people suggested the more of such foods people ate, the greater their risk of cancer.

The foods classified as ultra processed include cakes, chicken nuggets and mass-produced bread. Crisps, chocolate, instant noodles and shelf-life ready meals were also included on the list compiled by the team at  Universite Sorbonne Paris Cite.

The UK’s BBC, reporting a British Medical Journal study, reveals that the team used food surveys on two days to work out what people were eating and those on the study, who were mostly middle-aged women, were followed for an average of five years.

The results showed that if the proportion of ultra-processed food in the diet increased by 10%, then the number of cancers detected increased by 12%.

The study revealed that on average, 18% of people’s diet was ultra-processed.

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The researchers concluded: “These results suggest that the rapidly increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the next decades.”

But they admitted that other factors may also link the study’s participants with cancer, including smoking, a lack of physical activity and being overweight.