A charity has warned that most young people are unaware that eating processed meats increases the risk of developing bowel cancer.
A survey of more than 2,200 people by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) showed that one in three (32%) of 18 to 24-year-olds knew of the link involving products such as bacon and ham.
Among people aged 45 to 54, knowledge of the link was 41%.
Researchers have suggested thousands of bowel cancer cases could be prevented by cutting consumption of processed meats. It is estimated 3,800 cases could be avoided if people ate less than 70g a week - the equivalent of three rashers of bacon.
Kate Mendoza, Head of Education for the WCRF, said: "We are concerned that awareness is so low and with processed meat, it seems the message is not getting through to young adults in particular.
"It is worrying that it is so low in this age group because it is never too early for people to start thinking about the kind of lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk of developing cancer in this way."
The poll also found 56% of people knew having a poor diet increases the risk of cancer while 54% knew being overweight puts them at risk.
Some 88% of people were aware that smoking causes cancer.
"This story shows that awareness is still too low, despite the convincing evidence that eating processed meat increases risk of bowel cancer. We have done a blog about this at http://blog.wcrf-uk.org/2010/07/processed-meat-and-cancer-awareness/" - Richard Evans, World Cancer Research Fund