Intended for healthcare professionals


Ultra-processed foods and cancer

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 14 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k599
  1. Adriana Monge, researcher1,
  2. Martin Lajous, faculty researcher1 2
  1. 1Center for Research on Population Health, National Institute of Public Health, Mexico City, Mexico
  2. 2Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA
  1. Correspondence to: M Lajous mlajous{at}

The possibility of a link deserves further careful exploration

In this week’s The BMJ (doi:10.1136/bmj.k322), Fiolet and colleagues report a direct association between intake of ultra-processed food and incidence of total cancer and breast cancer.1 They used data from a population based prospective cohort of 104 980 middle aged French women and men. This web based cohort study regularly evaluates habitual dietary intake through repeated dietary recalls, uses novel research methods to bypass the increasing challenges in recruiting and retaining study participants, and efficiently leverages administrative data to validate cancer outcomes.

As the global consumption of highly processed foods increases,2 understanding the health impact of these foods has become a relevant and timely topic. Results from this study support the claim that the shift in the world’s food supply to highly processed foods may partly account for increasing trends in the incidence of non-communicable diseases, including cancer.3 Given the complexity in defining the …

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