Eating just a rasher of bacon a day 'increases risk of bowel cancer'

For those who only had red meat, none of the processed bits, the risk was still there – people who ate 54g of red meat a day (the equivalent of one lamb chop) had a 15% higher risk of bowel cancer than those who ate an average of 8g per day.

For processed meat only, the risk of bowel cancer was 19% higher for people who had an average of 29g per day (the equivalent of one rasher of bacon or a single slice of ham) compared with those who ate an average of 5g per day.

That suggests that even one rasher of bacon or slice of ham a day increases your chances of developing bowel cancer.

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, said: ‘The Government guidelines on red and processed meat are general health advice and this study is a reminder that the more you can cut down beyond this, the more you can lower your chances of developing bowel cancer.

‘This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out red and processed meat entirely, but you may want to think about simple ways to reduce how much you have and how often.

‘Although breaking habits we’ve had for a long time can be hard, it’s never too late to make healthy changes to our diet.

‘You could try doing meat-free Mondays, looking for recipes using fresh chicken and fish, or swapping meat for pulses like beans and lentils in your usual meals.’

Symptoms of bowel cancer:

Symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • a persistent change in bowel movements – going more often, with looser stools and sometimes abdominal pain
  • blood in the stools
  • abdominal pain, discomfort, or bloating always brought on by eating

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, speak to your GP.


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