Red Meat "Increases Cancer Risk"
People who eat a diet high in red and processed meat increase their risk of bowel cancer by as much as a third, new research has shown.
Past studies have highlighted a possible link between eating large amounts of red meat and a greater risk of bowel cancer.
The latest research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, used data from a long-running study of the diets of more than half a million people across Europe.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) found that the risk of developing bowel cancer for people who regularly ate more than two portions of red and processed meat a day was a third (35%) higher than for those who ate less than one portion a week.
The study also found that the risk of developing the disease increased for those people who had a low-fibre diet.
Poultry was not found to influence the risk of bowel cancer, but the researchers did find that people who ate more fish faced less chance of developing the disease.
The risk of bowel cancer dropped by nearly a third (30%) for people who ate one portion or more of fish every other day - compared to those who ate fish less than once a week.
The research was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Professor Sheila Bingham, a principal investigator of the study from the MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit in Cambridge, said: "People have suspected for some time that high levels of red and processed meat increase risk of bowel cancer, but this is one of the largest studies worldwide and the first from Europe of this type to show a strong relationship.
"The overall picture is very consistent for red and processed meat and fibre across all the European populations studied."