London: Health experts have said that eating more than 3 slices of ham a day really does increase bowel cancer risk.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), published recommendations designed to reduce the risk of bowel cancer, reports the Daily Mail.
The latest findings are bound to muddy the already confusing debate around the nutritional benefits of red meat.
Last week, a British Nutrition Foundation study claimed that the majority of adults ate ‘healthy amounts’ of red meat and there was an ‘inconclusive’ link to cancer.
However, the government insists that people who eat 90g or more of red and processed meat a day should cut back.
Cutting down to the UK average of 70g a day can help reduce the risk, the study from SACN said.
Red meat contains substances that have been linked to bowel cancer.
One compound in particular, ham, which gives red meat its colour, has been shown to damage the lining of the colon in some studies.
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) recommends limiting red meat consumption to 500g a week of cooked weight (about 700g to 750g uncooked).
And it says people should avoid processed meats altogether because of the even higher risk of bowel cancer.
Processed meat is generally defined as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with chemical preservatives added to it.
It is thought this process causes the formation of carcinogens, which can damage cells in the body and allow cancer to develop.