Eating red meat just once a day increases your risk of bowel cancer by a fifth, a study by Oxford University suggests.
The research based on almost half a million British men and women found that even moderate consumption of ham and bacon was linked to an increased chance of developing the disease.
Scientists recommended cutting intake of red and processed meat to no more than twice a week, in light of the findings.
Bowel cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the UK, with around 23,000 diagnoses annually.
It has long been linked to heavy consumption of red meat, especially processed types.
However, the new research suggests that even a modest intake of such foods had a significant impact.
The study, part-funded by Cancer Research UK, found that every 25 grams of processed meat eaten daily – equivalent to a rasher of bacon or a slice of ham – increased the risk of bowel cancer by 20 percent. Every 50 grams of unprocessed red meat – a lamb chop or thick slice of roast beef – was linked to a similar increase in risk.
Overall, those sticking to Government guidelines on red and processed meat consumption carried risks around a fifth higher than those who limited their intake to very small amounts.