Bacon lovers, take note: The salty, savory meat treat comes with a risk. People who ate just one slice of bacon a day had a 19 percent greater risk of colorectal cancer. That’s one of the findings by researchers at the University of Oxford in England who studied the eating habits of nearly one-half million middle-aged people in the United Kingdom over a five-year period.
Bacon and other processed meats like sausage aren’t alone as cancer culprits. Researchers found that eating just 2.6 ounces of red or processed meat a day boosted colorectal cancer risk by 20 percent.
Still, bacon and other processed meats carry a larger risk: A small amount of processed meat seemed to have the same effect as a larger quantity of red meat.
The latest research adds to evidence linking red and processed meats to increased colorectal cancer risk. In 2015, the World Health Organization found processed meat was cancer-causing to humans, and red meat was deemed “probably carcinogenic.”
So, how much red meat is too much? Cancer Research UK, which partially funded the research, suggests anyone who now eats about 3 ounces of red meat a day cut that to 2.4 ounces or less. More broadly, other studies have shown a small rise in overall disease risk among people who eat between 2 and 4 ounces of red meat each day.
In practical terms, the researchers had this observation: Eating red and processed meat four or more times a week brings a higher risk of bowel cancer than indulging less than twice a week.
And be careful what you drink along with the meat: Alcohol was also linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Water is your friend.