Red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork – can form part of a healthy diet. But eating a lot of red and processed meat probably increases your risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer. That’s why the Department of Health advises people who eat more than 90 grams (cooked weight) of red and processed meat a day to cut down to 70 grams, which is the average daily consumption in the UK.
Red meat is a good source of protein and provides vitamins and minerals, such as iron and zinc. But evidence shows that there is probably a link between eating red and processed meat and the risk of bowel cancer. People who eat a lot of these meats are at higher risk of bowel cancer than those who eat small amounts.
If you eat more than 90g of red or processed meat a day it is recommended that you cut down. Ninety grams is the equivalent of about three thin-cut slices of roast beef, lamb or pork, where each slice is about the size of half a piece of sliced bread.
It is recommended that you cut down to 70g, as this could help reduce your risk of bowel cancer. Other healthier lifestyle choices, such as maintaining a healthy weight, keeping active and not smoking can also help reduce your risk.
What counts as red and processed meat? This definition of red meat includes:
It does not include:
Processed meat refers to meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. This includes sausages, bacon, ham, salami and pâtés.
More details on this subject can be found on the NHS Choices website