Eating even moderate amount of meat can raise cancer risk

A major study finds that eating the recommended daily amount of meat will still increase your risk of bowel cancer.

Steak meal. Photo credit: Pexels

Steak meal. Photo credit: Pexels

Eating even moderate amounts of red and processed meat increases the risk of bowel cancer, according to a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The study showed that people eating on average around 76g of red and processed meat a day, which is roughly in line with UK Government recommendations, still had a 20% higher chance of developing bowel cancer than those who only ate on average about 21g a day.

Professor Tim Key, co-author of the study and Deputy Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, said:

"Our results strongly suggest that people who eat red and processed meat four or more times a week have a higher risk of developing bowel cancer than those who eat red and processed meat less than twice a week."

Existing evidence points to an increased bowel cancer risk for every 50g of processed meat a person eats per day, but this research found that risk increases at just 25g per day, showing a similar rise in risk at smaller intervals. This is one of the largest single studies in the field and one of few to measure meat quantities and associated risks so precisely.

More data are required to define the relative risks of different meats more clearly. The researchers also found that alcohol was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. However fibre from bread and cereals was associated with a reduced risk.

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