The statement from the IARC, published as an article in the journal Lancet Oncology, substantially toughens the line, especially against processed meat. But while cancer scientists are concerned about the risks of eating too much meat, some nutritionists maintain that the extra risk is relatively small and that meat has other benefits.
Dr Elizabeth Lund an independent consultant in nutritional and gastrointestinal santé, and a former research leader at the Institute of Food Research, who acknowledges she did some work for the meat industry in 2010 said red meat was linked to about three extra cases of bowel cancer per 100,000 adults in developed countries.
A much bigger risk factor is obesity and lack of exercise, dit-elle. Global, I feel that eating meat once a day combined with plenty of fruit, vegetables and cereal fibre, plus exercise and weight control, will allow for a low risk of colorectal cancer and a more balanced diet.
Prof Ian Johnson, emeritus fellow at the Institute of Food Research, also said the effect was small. It is certainly very inappropriate to suggest that any adverse effect of bacon and sausages on the risk of bowel cancer is comparable to the dangers of tobacco smoke, which is loaded with known chemical carcinogens and increases the risk of lung cancer in cigarette smokers by around twentyfold.