Ultra-Processed Foods Linked to Increased Cancer Risk


Ultra-Processed Foods Linked to Increased Cancer Risk

Researchers have found that eating ultra processed food increases risk of cancer. The French study, published in the BMJ, assessed the diets 105,000 people. Results showed that the more ultra processed foods people ate, the greater their risk of cancer.

Whilst in the past we largely blamed genes for whether or not we got diseases like cancer, we’re now understanding that environmental factors, including diet, play a key role. As the saying goes ‘genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.’


Researchers set out to assess the associations between consumption of ultra processed food and risk of cancer. Risk of overall, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer was assessed.

104 980 adults had their daily food intake recorded. It was designed to register participants’ usual consumption of 3300 different food items. These foods were categorised according to their degree of processing by the NOVA classification.

The study found that a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet was associated with a significant increase of greater than 10% in risks of overall and breast cancer. 


The list of ultra-processed foods included those we might expect, things like cakes and sweets, crisps, processed meats and ready meals. But it also contained foods we might not necessarily think of as ultra-processed – like most shop bought bread, breakfast cereals and ‘fruit’ yoghurts.

Data shows that the majority of our calories now come from ultra processed foods. In the world we live in, processed foods are almost impossible to avoid. They are cheap, convenient and widely available.

Education is the key. Whilst most of us know that eating a lot of cakes and crisps won’t benefit our health, there are a lot of foods such as breads and breakfast cereals that we may not consider to be ‘ultra processed’. Understanding what constitutes a healthy diet and making conscious decisions as a result is important.


NOVA is the food classification that categorises foods according to the extent of food processing. It outlines three criteria for sportting an ultra processed food. The three criteria are:

1. Comes in a packet

2. Contains more than five ingredients

3. Contains at least one item characteristic of the NOVA ultra processed food group.
Either food substances never or rarely used in kitchens (such as high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated or interesterified oils, and hydrolysed proteins), or classes of additives designed to make the final product palatable or more appealing (such as flavours, flavour enhancers, colours, emulsifiers, emulsifying salts, sweeteners, thickeners, and anti-foaming, bulking, carbonating, foaming, gelling and glazing agents).

If you’re interested in understanding more about ultra processed foods, here is our guide. You can also take a look at this simple but effective visual guide comparing natural, processed and ultra-processed versions of the same food by Christina Earle.


Instead of relying on ultra processed foods, instead focus on consuming whole foods as much as possible. Plenty of vegetables and low sugar fruits. Healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and unfrosted nuts and seeds. Natural proteins from organic meat, wild fish, eggs and tofu. We often see that when our clients gain a better understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet, the less healthy foods naturally phase out.


The occasional bag of crisps or a chocolate bar as a treat can form part of a healthy diet for most people. That, in itself, is highly unlikely to give you cancer. However, relying on a diet based primarily on highly processed foods will promote weight gain and a predisposition to a number of chronic, degenerative diseases.

Healthy eating can be confusing. It can be difficult to differentiate between truly healthy foods and those that manufacturer’s marketing departments are trying to convince us are healthy. As qualified nutritionists who specialise in weight loss, we work with our clients to help them understand what is a healthy diet for them and making that fit into their every day lifestyle. If you feel you might benefit from some support in this area, please do get in touch.


Sarah has worked with hundreds of clients over the past decade to help them live in a healthy body that they feel confident in.
Sarah spent a large part of her teens and 20’s as a professional dancer battling with orthorexia and an unhealthy relationship with food and her body. This created a desire to understand the human body more so she could finally cut through the confusion and end the cycle of yoyo dieting. This fuelled her passion to help other women do the same.


Sarah May specialises in supporting women who are struggling to lose weight due to underlying health issues. She’s helped many women manage their weight during and after the menopause, as well as clients with thyroid disease and immune system dysfunction. Sarah May loves food and sharing healthy recipes with her clients. Her aim is to ensure that clients don’t feel deprived and instead, achieve their weight loss and health goals in a positive and sustainable way.


To enquire about working with Sarah, please contact us.



Ailsa is one of our most experienced practitioners. She specialises in helping clients to lose weight, develop a healthy relationship with food and finally feel comfortable in their skin. Ailsa’s mission is for everyone she works with to enjoy the journey and that working with a nutritionist should not be a punishment, but your access to a new possibility.


Ailsa is not only an experienced weight loss nutritionist, she is also a skilled coach. She helps our clients overcome emotional eating, destructive habits and self-sabotaging behaviours that have prevented successful weight loss in the past. Ailsa has spent years in clinic working with clients who have experienced yo-yo dieting and have discovered that long term weight loss is not just about eating less until you can stand it no longer.


Working with Ailsa you will be comprehensively supported, not only in improving your nutrition and lifestyle, but also your eating habits and your relationship with food. When you work on all these elements together, the results can be truly astonishing.


To enquire about working with Ailsa, please contact us.

Test Nikki is our Practice Manager, managing our team of practitioners and heading up the day-to-day running of the business. Nikki is involved in the strategic development of our practice, coming from a strong business background in town planning. A Florida girl, Nikki relocated to the UK in 2014 with her husband and two children.



Nikki is our Practice Manager, managing our team of practitioners and heading up the day-to-day running of th clinic.


Nikki is involved in the strategic development of our practice, coming from a strong business background in town planning.


A Florida girl, Nikki relocated to the UK in 2014 with her husband and two children.


Stéphanie is a skilled nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner with additional training in eating disorders, disordered eating and obesity. She believes that working towards both physiological and mental health is key in achieving optimum wellbeing.


Stéphanie’s personal experience of emotional eating and the ongoing struggle to find the right support led her to combine the science of nutrition with behavioural coaching to motivate and empower her clients. She specialises in helping people who struggle with their weight and their relationship with food. She helps them develop a healthier and more peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.


To enquire about working with Stéphanie, please contact us.


Inna is passionate about supporting women on their journey to improved health and wellbeing. She believes that the solution to effective weight loss does not lie in ever more restrictive diets, but a more sophisticated approach that optimises health and vitality, as well as promoting effective weight loss.


Working with Inna you will benefit from her in-depth knowledge of female health and hormones. She will support you in developing a healthy diet, lifestyle and mindset that ensures you reach your ideal weight and maintain it in the years to come.


Inna is passionate about food with a wide repertoire of delicious healthy recipes and meal ideas to ensure your weight loss journey is as enjoyable as possible!


To enquire about working with Inna, please contact us.



Ania is a firm believer that improving your health and losing weight should be a positive, empowering journey, not one centred around deprivation.


After being diagnosed with two autoimmune conditions in her twenties, Ania spent several years educating herself on the power of food and nutrition. She put it all into practise and changed her diet and lifestyle, reversing her endometriosis and thyroid disease. After experiencing such a significant improvement in her health, Ania had a big desire to help others. She embarked on a four year journey to study nutrition, graduating from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition with distinction.


Ania specialises in autoimmunity and works with clients who have underlying health issues preventing successful weight loss. Her expertise enables her to successfully support our clients with conditions such as hypothyroidsm (underactive thyroid), PCOS and diabetes. 


To enquire about working with Ania, please contact us.

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