More Brits see processed meat-cancer link

Britons are more aware of the links between eating processed meat and cancer, a new poll suggests.


The association between processed meats such as bacon, ham and sausage and cancer is better known among adults than it was five years ago, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) said.

Last year the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), classed processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans”. Its report concluded that the consumption of processed meat causes bowel cancer.

The new WCRF poll found that following the WHO announcement, half of British adults said they were aware of the cancer risks linked with eating processed meat – up from 34 per cent five years ago.

The WCRF said that in men awareness increased from 35 per cent in 2010 to 49 per cent in 2015. Knowledge of the risk among women also increased from 33 per cent in 2010 to 51 per cent last year.

Examples of processed meat include hot dogs, ham, sausages, corned beef and beef jerky, as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.

The WCRF said that 10 per cent of bowel cancer cases could be prevented if people ate little or no processed meat.

In 2013, more than 42,000 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, in the UK. In the same year it was attributable to more than 16,000 deaths.

“It is great news that more people are aware of eating processed meat and the risks of developing cancer,” said WCRF director Amanda McLean.

“When it comes to bowel cancer prevention we recommend people eat little, if any, processed meat such as ham or bacon and eat no more than 500 grams of cooked red meat per week.”

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “It’s great to see that over half of Britons now know that too much processed meat can increase your risk of bowel cancer. It’s important that on average we don’t eat more than 70 grams of processed and red meat each day to lower our risk.”

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