Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with around 42,000 new cases diagnosed every year.
The exact cause of bowel cancer it still unknown, but there are several risk factors which increase the chance of developing the disease.
According to the NHS, a “large body” of evidence suggests a diet high in red and processed meat can increase the risk of bowel cancer.
“Red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork – is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and can form part of a balanced diet,” said the NHS.
“But eating a lot of red and processed meat probably increases your risk of bowel cancer.”
Processed meat refers to meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives.
One group of preservatives used in the production of processed meat is nitrates, which some UK politicians have recently called on the government to remove from food.
This is because it is believed the nitrates in processed meats can produce carcinogenic nitrosamines, which may lead to bowel cancer.
Processed meat includes things like sausages, bacon, ham, deli meats like salami, canned meat such as corned beef, sliced lunch meats like chicken and turkey slices and pâté.
So how much red and processed meat is safe to eat?
The NHS and Department of Health advise eating no more than 70g of red and processed meat per day.
They recommend cutting down by eating smaller portions, eating those meats less often, or swapping them for alternatives.
If you eat more than 90g of red or processed meat on a certain day, ensure you eat less on the following days so the average amount per day does not exceed 70g.
To put this into perspective, 90g of red meat equates to three thin-cut slices of roast lamb, beef or pork, each about the size of half a slice of bread.
A grilled 8oz beef steak equates to 163g, while a cooked breakfast containing two sausages and two rashers of bacon is around 130g.
A 5oz rump steaks weighs about 102g, while a large done kebab is 130g and a quarter-pound beef burger is 78g.
One slice of ham equates to 23g, while a slice of black pudding is 30g and a thin slice of corned beef is 38g.
Other factors which may increase the risk of bowel cancer include smoking, being overweight and drinking large amounts of alcohol.
People who are physically inactive are also at a higher risk of developing the disease, as are those who have a family history of it.
Almost 18 in 20 cases of bowel cancer in the UK are diagnosed in people over the age of 60, according to the NHS.
Published at Mon, 31 Dec 2018 13:19:00 +0000