Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 11:12 UK

Fry-ups raise bowel cancer risk

Fried breakfast
Processed meats are linked to bowel cancer

Eating a typical breakfast fry-up every day significantly increases the risk of bowel cancer, say researchers.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) calculates that eating 150g of processed meats like sausages and bacon daily raises the risk by 63%.

In addition, the high calorie content of a fry-up raises the risk of obesity, which is linked to many cancers.

The overall chances of developing bowel cancer are one in 18 for men and one in 20 for women in the UK.

For some people, having a fry-up with bacon and sausages might seem like a good way to start the day - but if you are doing this regularly then you are significantly increasing your risk of bowel cancer
Professor Martin Wiseman
World Cancer Research Fund

According to the WCFR, the typical English breakfast with fried eggs, sausages, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes can contain around 700 calories.

It said 150g of processed meat equated to about two sausages, and three rashers of bacon.

The evidence that processed meat is a cause of bowel cancer is so strong, people should limit their intake, the charity said.

Professor Martin Wiseman, WCRF medical and scientific adviser, said: "For some people, having a fry-up with bacon and sausages might seem like a good way to start the day.

"But if you are doing this regularly then you are significantly increasing your risk of bowel cancer, which is one of the most common cancers in the UK."

Lack of awareness

Professor Wiseman said only a third of people were aware of the link between processed meat and cancer.

But he warned that said the more you eat, the higher your risk of bowel cancer.

Figures show that sales of sausages in the UK have risen by around 5% in the last year.

Professor Wiseman also recommended that people limit consumption of high calorie foods in general.

"This is important because there is convincing evidence excess body fat increases risk of six different types of cancer."

It is estimated that about a third of cancers could be prevented by eating healthily, taking regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.

Sara Hiom, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said many scientific studies had found bowel cancer was more common among people who eat lots of red and processed meat.

She said it was difficult to predict the risk to an individual person, which was also influenced by many other factors such as lifestyle and genetics.

However, she added: "If anyone is looking to reduce their risk of bowel cancer, moderating the amount of red and processed meat they eat is a good way to start."


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