Eating bacon is 'as likely to cause cancer as asbestos', docs warn

A GROUP of campaigning doctors have warned that eating bacon is "as likely to cause cancer as asbestos".

The Plant-based Health Professionals organisation want hospitals to scrap bacon sandwiches, all-day breakfasts and sausages and mash from their menus.

They say the cancer risk posed by processed meats is unsafe for patients and urged the NHS to promote healthier options.

Anaesthetist Dr Charlotte Houltram supports the group's Give Bacon The Boot campaign, aimed at getting processed meats out of hospitals.

She told the Mirror: “Bacon is in the same category as asbestos as far as its potential to cause cancer.”

The group's founder Dr Shireen Kassam added: “The NHS spends millions treating cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

“Why serve food that can cause life-threatening conditions? Hospitals will argue healthier options are available, but there’s no safe limit with processed meat.”

Bowel cancer risk

It comes after a new study found that bacon and sausages fuel cancer twice as much as previously thought.

Just 25g of processed meat daily – equal to one rasher or 2/3 of a banger – raises the risk of bowel tumours by a fifth.

The World Health Organisation previously warned 50g of processed meat a day – two rashers or 1½ bangers – increased the risk of bowel cancer by 18 per cent.

But researchers from the University of Oxford now say a mere 25g each day is enough to raise the risk by 20 per cent.

The evidence linking processed and red meat to cancer has been stacking up for over a decade.

Carcinogenic classification

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – a group of experts that review and report on research evidence – classified processed meat as a "definite" cause of cancer.

It also put asbestos, which has been linked to a type of cancer known as mesothelioma, in the same category – Group 1.

Tobacco is also classified in the same group.

Katie Patrick, from Cancer Research UK, explained: "IARC groups simply state how certain we can be, based on the evidence, that something causes cancer, not the amount of cancers it causes.

"This means the evidence that processed meat causes bowel cancer is as strong as it is for tobacco causing cancer, but smoking is responsible for far more cases of cancer than processed meat."

Department of Health guidelines suggest people cut back to 70g of red and processed meat each day if they are eating more than 90g.

In the UK, more than 23,000 cases of cancer every year are caused by eating processed meats such as bacon, salami, hot dogs and ham.

Dr Julie Sharp, from Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s never too late to make healthy changes to our diet.

“You could try doing meat free Mondays, looking for recipes using fresh chicken and fish, or swapping meat for pulses like beans and lentils in your usual meals.”

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