New study strengthens processed meat dangers

07. 03. 2013 | WCRF Press Release

A new study of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) has concluded that diets high in processed meats are linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and early deaths.

New study strengthens processed meat dangers

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Writing in the journal BMC Medicine [1], the researchers said salt and chemicals used to preserve the meat may damage health. EPIC [2] is a cohort study that looked at the diets of nearly half a million people from 10 European countries for nearly 13 years on average.

Dr Rachel Thompson, Deputy Head of Science at World Cancer Research Fund, said: “This research from EPIC adds to the body of scientific evidence highlighting the health risks of eating processed meat. Our research, published in 2007 and subsequently confirmed in 2011, shows strong evidence that eating processed meat, such as bacon, ham, hot dogs, salami and some sausages, increases the risk of getting bowel cancer.

“We also found that if everyone in the UK were to reduce their consumption of processed meat to 10g or less a day, ten per cent of bowel cancer cases would be prevented annually, meaning about 4,100 fewer people would be diagnosed with the disease every year. This is why World Cancer Research Fund recommends people avoid processed meat.

“As far as red meat is concerned, we recommend eating no more than 500g (cooked weight) of red meat a week. Although red meat is linked to bowel cancer it also contains important nutrients and evidence shows that eating up to 500g a week does not significantly raise cancer risk. Regularly eating more than this, however, does increase risk of bowel cancer.”


  1. Rohrmann S, Overvad K, et al. Meat consumption and mortality - results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. BMC Medicine 2013. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-63
  2. EPIC – European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition

Keywords: processed meat, cardiovascular disease, cancer, early deaths, World Cancer Research Fund