Men are less aware than women of the link between processed meat and cancer, although they eat twice as much food containing the product, new research suggests.
Studies have shown the average risk of bowel cancer, which is five in 100, increases to six in 100 if people eat an extra 50 g of processed meat per day.
Foods that may lead to bowel cancer include bacon, ham, salami and some sausages. Eating two rashers of bacon every day throughout life is estimated to increase the risk factor for the disease by 20%.
A poll by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) showed that most men have little knowledge of this effect of processed meat, with only 36% saying they are aware of the risk, compared to 41% of women.
It also found that men eat an average of nearly 50 g of processed meat (equivalent of two rashers of bacon) per day, against only 24 g for women.
Experts believe that if people ate less than 70 g of processed meat per week (equivalent of three rashers of bacon) around 3,700 of the 37,000 new bowel cancer cases in the UK can be prevented.
Dr Rachel Thompson, science programme manager for WCRF, said: "It is important to emphasise that while we recommend avoiding processed meat, this is not a question of all or nothing."
Copyright © Press Association 2009
World Cancer Research Fund
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