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Processed meats ‘can cause cancer’

Processed meats ‘can cause cancer’
29th October 2015

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that processed meats, including ham, bacon and sausages can cause cancer.

In a new report from WHO, it said that eating 50g of processed meat a day could increase the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.

Processed meats include common foods such as bacon, sausages, hot dogs, salami, corned beef, beef jerky and meat which comes in cans or is found in sauces or frozen food. The research explained that it is the chemicals which are used in processing and could be further increasing the risk of cancer. This could be smoking or curing the meat or adding salt and preservatives to extend the shelf life and change the taste of the food.

Currently in the UK around six in every 100 people will get bowel cancer at some point in their lives, with this risk increasing to seven in every 100 should they consumer an extra 50g of processed meat a day for the rest of their lives.

Dr Kurt Straif from the WHO explained: “For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed.”

However, despite the warnings, the WHO emphasised that meat could still play an important part in a healthy and balanced diet, with red meat a major source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12.

Professor Tim Key from the University of Oxford and Cancer Research UK, said that the decision doesn’t mean stopping eating any red and processed meat, but anyone who is eating a lot of these foods may want to consider cutting down.

“Eating a bacon bap every once in a while isn’t going to do much harm – having a healthy diet is all about moderation,” Professor Key went on to advise.

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