Meat cancer warning for men

A leading cancer organisation has said men are less aware that eating processed meat, such as bacon and ham, increases the risk of cancer even though men eat double the amount women do.

According to a survey by YouGov, commissioned by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), 36% of men know about a link between processed meat and bowel cancer, while for women the figure is 41%.

WCRF science programme manager Dr Rachel Thompson said: “The evidence that eating processed meat increases bowel cancer risk is convincing and this is why we recommend people avoid eating it.
“But despite the strength of the evidence, awareness levels are low and this seems to especially be the case in men. This is a concern, because as men eat roughly double the amount of processed meat as women do, they could make a bigger difference to their cancer risk by cutting down.”

According to the WCRF, scientists estimate that about 3,700 of the 37,000 cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK, which could be prevented if everyone ate less than 70g of processed meat per week – roughly the equivalent to three rashers of bacon. The WCRF also claimed that eating 50g per day of processed meat throughout life increases bowel cancer risk by about 20%.

Dr Thompson added: “It is important to emphasise that while we recommend avoiding processed meat, this is not a question of all or nothing. If you do not want to give up processed meat altogether, you can still make a real difference to your cancer risk by cutting down from, for example, having a bacon sandwich every day to only having one a couple of times a week.”

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