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Processed And Red Meat Contribute To Bowel Cancer

May 23, 2011

World Cancer Research Fund advises people to limit their consumption of beef, pork and lamb, as well as avoid processed meat.

Cancer experts have issued a warning about eating red and processed meat after “the most authoritative report” no the subject blamed them for causing the disease.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) is advising people to limit their consumption of red meats like beef, pork and lamb, and to avoid process meats like ham and salami altogether.

It said there is “convincing evidence” that both types of meat increase the risk of bowel cancer means people should think seriously about reducing how much they eat.

Dr. Teresa Norat, leader of the study, and colleagues studied 263 research papers that have come out since looking at the role of diet, weight and physical activity in bowel cancer.

“For red and processed meat, findings of 10 new studies were added to the 14 analyzed as part of the 2007 report. The panel confirmed that there is convincing evidence that both red and processed meat increase bowel cancer risk,” said the report.

“WCRF recommends that people limit consumption to 500g (cooked weight) of red meat a week ““ roughly the equivalent of five or six medium portions of roast beef, lamb or pork ““ and avoid processed meat,” it added.

About 36,000 Britons develop bowel cancer each year, and about 16,500 people die from it. 

The WCRF said about 17,000 cases a year could be prevented if people ate less meat and more fiber, drank less, maintained a healthy weight and kept active.

Professor Alan Jackson of Southampton University, the chair of the WCRF’s continuous update project expert panel, said in a statement: “On meat, the clear message that comes out of our report is that red and processed meat increase risk of bowel cancer and that people who want to reduce their risk should consider cutting down the amount they eat.”
 
Growing concern about red and processed meat prompted the government to advise consumers in February to consider cutting down.  This advice came after the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) examined the evidence on the subject.

SACN decided those meats probably increase the risk of bowel cancer.

Teresa Nightingale, general manager of the WCRF, said of the new report: “We estimate that about 43 per cent of bowel cancers cases in the UK could be prevented through these sorts of changes. That is about 17,000 cases every year.”

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Britain, after breast and lung cancer.

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