Monday, 31 March 2008

Processed Meat = 20% Increased Risk Of Cancer

Eating just one sausage or approximately three rashers of bacon a day can increase the risk of developing bowel cancer by a fifth, an expert warned yesterday.

Studies show that just 50g of processed meat daily increases the chances of getting bowel cancer by around 20pc.


The charity, World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), said more needed to be done to get across the message that people who eat processed meat regularly are putting their health at risk.

Professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific adviser for the WCRF, said there was convincing evidence of a link between processed meats and cancer.

Processed meat is defined as that which is preserved by smoking, curing, salting or the addition of preservatives.

Examples include ham, bacon, pastrami, salami, hot dogs and processed sausages.

Hamburgers and minced meat count if they have been preserved with salt or any chemical additives.

Prof Wiseman said "We are more sure now than ever before that eating processed meat increases your risk of bowel cancer and this is why WCRF recommends that people avoid eating it.

"The evidence is that whether you are talking about bacon, ham or pastrami -- the safest amount to eat is none at all.

"When you consider that eating 50g of processed meat a day can increase your risk of bowel cancer by about a fifth, it is clear that you can make a positive difference by cutting out as much as possible.

"We do recommend that people avoid it completely, but it is not a case of all or nothing.

"Cutting down the amount of processed meat you eat can also reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer.

"But we need to do more to get this message across because if two thirds of people don't know about the link between processed meat and bowel cancer, then they are not in a position to be able to make informed decisions about whether to eat it or not."

In October, a major WCRF report warned that red meat such as beef, pork and lamb is also strongly linked to bowel cancer, although it is not as harmful as processed meat.

The report carried the recommendation that people consume less than 500g of cooked red meat per week and avoid processed meat altogether if possible.

However, red meat is also a valuable source of nutrients so the WCRF does not recommend cutting it out altogether. Bowel cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the UK, with almost 100 new cases being diagnosed every day.The charity also said there is limited evidence suggesting that processed meats may increase risk of cancers to the oesophagus, lung, and stomach.

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