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Blog > Scientists back up WHO claim that red meat causes cancer

Two Steaks a Week Increases Cancer Risk by 40%

A study has found a link between red meat and bowel cancer

Following the announcement last week from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which said that fresh red meat and processed meat were carcinogens and ranked alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer, scientists from Oxford University have additional shocking statistics on the effects of red meat.

According to the experts, eating four portions of red meat per week increased the likelihood of developing bowel cancer by over 40%, with two portions increasing risk by one fifth. The report claimed that each 50g portion of red meat consumed per day increased a person's chance of developing the disease by 18%, which amounts to one sausage or less than 2 slices of bacon per day.

The study was conducted by Professor Tim Key and Dr Kathryn Bradbury, and involved studying the records of over 500,000 British men and women aged between 40 and 69 to establish their meat eating habits over a four year period.

During the period length of the study, 1,503 of the participants developed bowel cancer, with those who had eaten red or processed meat more likely than those who ate less or none at all.

The research was based on national average portion sizes, which are equal to approximately one sausage, two rashers of bacon or two slices of ham. However, one quarter pounder burger is three times this level, while a 10oz steak is equivalent to more than four portions of red meat.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest killer in the UK and is to blame for over 16,000 deaths per year.

Chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, Mark Flannagan, said, "We must not underestimate the importance of diet in reducing your risk of bowel cancer. The evidence suggests there is a strong link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer, so we recommend eating both in moderation."

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