Mr Wang said: “These products include some processed meats like sausages, bacon, ham, and fish cakes. This is consistent with our hypothesis.”
High intake of sugary drinks such as fizzy drinks and fruit-based drinks was also associated with high risk of bowel cancer among the men, but not all processed foods were found to be as harmful.
Co-senior author Fang Fang Zhang added: “We found an inverse association between ultra-processed dairy foods like yoghurt and colorectal cancer risk among women.”
It was thought this could be one reason why women were less affected.