"Most ultra-processed foods use additives including sweeteners, emulsifiers, preservatives, food coloring, and artificial flavoring," said Dr. Light. "These additives are used to stabilize foods in order to increase their shelf life. Ultra-processed foods can often be identified by food labels containing more than five ingredients. These ingredients often make processed food more palatable."
According to the study, increasing the intake of ultra-processed food by 10 percent led to a proportional 10 percent increased risk for overall cancer and breast cancer.
Dr. Light said simplicity is best when it comes to food selection.
"Avoid any prepared foods that have a long list of additives, preservatives, sweeteners, or food coloring," he said. "Avoiding all ultra-processed food is ideal. However, limiting the number is probably more realistic."
Dr. Light said there are ways you can decrease your cancer risk.
"Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is a healthy choice," he said. "The best advice is eating a balanced diet, avoiding junk food, maintaining a healthy weight, and regularly exercising. All of these positive habits increase longevity and decrease cancer rates."