The World Health Organisation is planning to declare that bacon, sausages and other processed meats cause cancer.
The Department of Health has already advised that people who eat a lot of red and processed meat a day (more than 90g cooked weight) cut down to 70g.
The WHO’s worldwide Agency for Research on Cancer presumes processed meat to be “carcinogenic to humans”.
“People who eat a lot of these meats are at higher risk of bowel cancer than those who eat small amounts”, it adds.
The IARC’s evaluation is understood to follow a review by scientists from 10 countries, who analysed all previous research in an approach known as a meta-study.
WE “LIKE LIKE” Bacon, but science is trying its best to ruin our enjoyment of the delicious meat by saying it’s just as likely to cause cancer as smoking.
Processed meat is one which is preserved by curing or salting, by adding of preservatives or by smoking.
It lists processed and red meat on the “encyclopaedia of carcinogens” which also includes cigarettes and asbestos.
A few estimates suggest that half of cases of bowel cancer – Britain’s second biggest cancer killer – could be prevented by healthier lifestyles.
A cooked breakfast containing two typical British sausages and two rashers of bacon is equivalent to 130g.
But it could have huge repercussions for the meat industry, which will be mindful that sugar sales fell a year ago after the World Health Organization issued a warning on overconsumption.
The beef sector makes £2.8billion for the economy and provides 440,000 jobs in England.
Government guidelines on red meat, given in 2011, recommend adults eat no more than 70g a day.
Professor Robert Pickard, Emeritus Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Cardiff, a member of the Meat Advisory Panel, said “Avoiding red meat in the diet is not a protective strategy against cancer”.