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Young people unaware of harmful effects of processed meats

Despite a wealth of scientific evidence that processed meats increase the risk of bowel cancer, it seems young people aren’t getting the message.

Posted : 10 July 2010

That’s the conclusion of a poll by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which shows that only a third of people aged 18-24 are aware of the link.

One in three young people (32 per cent) knows that meats such as salami, ham and bacon have been shown to increase the chances of developing bowel cancer, a figure that rose to 41 per cent among people aged 45-54.

Almost 4,000 cases of bowel cancer a year could be prevented if we cut consumption of processed meats to less than 70g a week, the equivalent of three bacon rashers.

WCRF head of education Kate Mendoza says cutting processed meats such as bacon and ham out of our diets is a good idea at any age.

“We are concerned that awareness is so low and with processed meat, it seems the message is not getting through to young adults in particular. It is worrying that it is so low in this age group because it is never too early for people to start thinking about the kind of lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk of developing cancer in this way.

“And if you do not want to give them up completely, you can still take a step in the right direction by viewing them as a special treat rather than something that is part of your everyday diet.”

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