Modest intake of red and processed meat still increases bowel cancer risk

Grant Boone
April 20, 2019

The research jointly funded by Cancer Research UK and published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that people who eat red and processed meat within Department of Health guidelines are still at increased risk of bowel cancer.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) said there is strong evidence that eating processed meat (such as salami, bacon and ham) is a cause of bowel cancer, while eating a lot of red meat (such as beef, lamb or pork) also increases the risk.

Cancer Research UK's health information officer, Katie Patrick, told talkRADIO's Julia Hartley-Brewer: "No matter how much red meat you have, if you take a few small steps to cut down you will reduce your risk further".

Scientists have shown that people eating around 76g of red and processed meat a day** - which is roughly in line with government recommendations*** - still had a 20% higher chance of developing bowel cancer than those who only ate about 21g a day.

Risk increased 19 per cent with every 50 grams of red meat, such as a thick slice of roast beef or a lamb chop.

The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, tracked the diets of almost half a million United Kingdom adults, between the ages of 40 and 69, and their diets were studied over the course of five years on average.

Those in the highest fifth of intake of fiber from bread and breakfast cereals had a 14% reduced risk of CRC (95% CI, 2-24).

This is not the first time meat consumption has been linked to cancer. During this time, 2,609 of the participants developed colorectal cancer.

Google lets Android users choose browsers to ease EU antitrust concerns
Google is to offer Android users in Europe a choice of rival search engines and browsers in a bid to ease anti-trust concerns. Google appealed the fine in October but a week later announced steps it would take to comply with the ruling.

Processed meat including sausages, bacon and ham have been found to increase the risk of developing bowel cancer.

But researchers from the University of Oxford now say a mere 25g each day is enough to raise the risk by 20 per cent.

British consumers are eating the right quantities of red meat and can continue to enjoy it as part of a balanced diet, according to health experts responding to the latest study linking red meat to cancer.

"But most previous research looked at people in the 1990s or earlier, and diets have changed significantly since then, so our study gives a more up-to-date insight", said Prof Key.

Public Health England's chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said that cutting down on red and processed meat would also help slash salt and saturated fat intake.

For instance, she suggested meat-free Mondays, and trying more recipes using filling ingredients such as fish, beans, and lentils.

For over five years, experts at the University of Oxford, University of Auckland, and the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) analyzed the diets and cancer rates of people who voluntarily participate in the U.K. Biobank research project.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article