Even modest intake of red and processed meat every day could increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer, according to a study by British scientists.
The study, published Wednesday in the British medical journal International Journal of Epidemiology, found that people eating three rashers of bacon a day rather than just one could increase the risk of bowel cancer by 20 percent.
The research followed almost half a million British men and women aged between 40 and 69 for an average of 5.7 years.
During this time, 2,609 people developed bowel cancer.
For every 10,000 people in the study who ate 21 grams a day of red and processed meat, 40 were diagnosed with bowel cancer. The figure rose to 48 for those who ate 76 grams a day.
A rasher of bacon is equivalent to about 23 grams of processed meat.
For processed meat only, the risk was 19 percent higher for those who had an average of 29 grams per day, compared with those who had an average of 5 grams per day.
And for unprocessed red meats, the risk was 15 percent higher for people who ate 54 grams per day on average compared with those who had 8 grams per day.
The current guideline for red and processed meat consumption issued by British National Health Service is no more than 70 grams per day.
Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in Britain. Around one in every 15 men and one in every 18 women will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime, according to Cancer Research UK, a cancer research and awareness charity in Britain.