Image: Flickr Energy-dense foods may raise the chances of suffering certain cancers by 10 percent.

WOMEN who eat junk food such as burgers or pizza are increasing their risk of cancer even if they are not overweight, research has warned.

Energy-dense foods may raise the chances of suffering certain cancers by 10 percent.

The study linked high-energy food and obesity-related cancers in post-menopausal women of a healthy weight. Men were not tested.

Exactly how these foods increase the risk of cancer is not known but they are thought to disturb the body’s metabolism.

American researchers looked at dietary energy density (DED) in the diets of 90,000 post-menopausal women for the study, which was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

DED is a measure of food quality and the relationship of calories to nutrients. The more calories per gram of food, the higher its DED. Foods such as vegetables, fruit, lean protein and beans are considered low-DED because they provide a lot of nutrients for few calories.

But foods such as pizza are high-DED because we need to eat more of them to get necessary nutrients. The researchers found women who ate a diet higher in DED were 10 per cent more likely to develop an obesity-related cancer, independent of body mass index.

Study leader Professor Cynthia Thomson, of the University of Arizona, said: ‘This finding suggests that weight management alone may not protect against obesity-related cancers should women favour a diet pattern indicative of high-energy density.’ She added that the information may help persuade postmenopausal women to choose low DED foods – even if they already have a healthy BMI – and that this could reduce the ‘cancer burden’.

Several kinds of cancer are more likely in obese people, including oesophagus, bowel, breast and pancreas cancer.

© Daily Mail