A new research has shown that people who eat a lot of red and processed meats are at an increased risk of developing bowel and lung cancer.
The research by Amanda Cross and colleagues at the US National Cancer Institute used data from a large US diet and health study, which began in 1995 and involved nearly half a million men and women, aged 50-71.
The participants had no previous records of cancer and they filled a questionnaire about their dietary habits over the previous year.
People whose intake of red meat was in the top fifth of the range of intakes, as recorded in the study, had an increased risk of developing colorectal, liver, lung and esophageal cancer as compared to people in the lowest fifth of consumption.
People in the highest fifth of processed meat intake had an increased risk of developing colorectal and lung cancer.
However, the frequency of other cancers were largely unaffected by meat intake.
The results showed that people who eat a lot of red and processed meats have a higher risk of developing colorectal and lung cancer than people who eat smaller quantities.
The results also pointed out that a high red meat intake is associated with an increased risk of esophageal and liver cancer and that 1 in 10 colorectal and 1 in 10 lung cancers could be evaded if people cut their red and processed meat intake to the lowest possible unit.
The researchers considered factors such as smoking that might have affected cancer incidence, but there is a possibility that other life-style factors may have had an influence.
The study had overlapping definitions of red meat and processed meat: bacon and ham, for example, were included in both categories.
Therefore, it is still unclear which particular type of meat causes which type of cancer.
A majority of study participants were non-Hispanic white, so the findings may not apply to people with different genetic backgrounds.
All the same, they still add to the evidence that suggests that decreased consumption of red and processed meats could reduce the incidence of several types of cancer.
The study is published in the latest issue of PLoS Medicine.