The government is urging people who eat a lot of red and processed meat to cut back to help reduce the risk of bowel cancer.


The advice follows the publication of a report, from the independent expert Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), which reviewed the evidence on the links between red and processed meat and bowel cancer.

It concluded that people who eat around 90g or more per day should consider cutting down to reduce their risk.

The report was widely leaked ealier in the week and the industry urged caution over how it was interpreted.

The Department of Health has since said cutting down to the UK average of 70g a day can help reduce the risk.

Examples of a 70g portion of meat are:

• one medium portion shepherds pie and a rasher of bacon;
• two standard beef burgers;
• six slices of salami;
• one lamb chop;
• two slices of roast lamb, beef or pork; or
• three slices of ham.

Interim chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said:  “Red meat can be part of a healthy balanced diet. It is a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals, such as iron, selenium, zinc and B vitamins.

“But people who eat a lot of red and processed meat should consider cutting down.  The occasional steak or extra few slices of lamb is fine but regularly eating a lot could increase your risk of bowel cancer.”

Red meat includes beef, lamb and pork as well as minced meat and offal from these animals. Processed meat includes ham, bacon, luncheon meat, corned beef, salami, pâté, sausages and burgers.