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Young unaware of meat and bowel cancer link

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Most young people are unaware that having too many bacon sandwiches or other processed meats increases the risk of bowel cancer, a survey shows.

Only a third of 18 to 24-year-olds - 32% - are aware there is a link between consumption of processed meats such as ham and bacon and bowel cancer, compared with 41% of 45 to 54-year-olds, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found.

Experts believe the number of bowel cancer cases could be reduced by 3,800 if people ate less than 70g of processed meat - three slices of bacon - each week.

Most people - 88% - were aware smoking causes cancer, while 56% knew a poor diet increases the risk of the disease and 54% knew being overweight is a risk factor.

Kate Mendoza, WCRF’s head of education, said: “We are concerned that awareness is so low and with processed meat, it seems the message is not getting through to young adults in particular.

“It is worrying that it is so low in this age group because it is never too early for people to start thinking about the kind of lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk of developing cancer in this way.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Most young people are unaware eating a truck full of chocolate will make them fat or that bacon comes from a pig!

    It's like all things, as long as you have a healthy, varied diet as a base, then the occassional bacon sarnie will do you no harm, if you eat 5 or 6 of them every single morning for breakfast it will mess you up in a variety of ways!

    Calm down and carry on!

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  • honestly we had a patient says he doesnt he meat but he eats sausages and burgers. Hes a teenage boy not old elderly.

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