Eating processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami and some types of sausage can increase the risk of bowel cancer.
Research shows that despite the chances of getting bowel cancer increasing by 20%, UK men eat an average of nearly 50g of processed meat a day (equivalent to two rashers of bacon) compared with 24g for women.
A poll for the World Cancer Research Fund suggests men are largely ignorant of the fact, with only 36% aware of the link compared with 41% of women.
The average person has a risk of bowel cancer of five in 100, but this rises to six in 100 if they eat an extra 50g of processed meat per day.
Scientists estimate that about 3,700 of the 37,000 new cases of bowel cancer in the UK each year could be prevented if everyone ate less than 70g of processed meat per week.
Dr Rachel Thompson, science programme manager for World Cancer Research Fund, said: “It is important to emphasise that while we recommend avoiding processed meat, this is not a question of all or nothing.”