A study conducted by Queen’s University Belfast has uncovered a link between the consumption of processed meat and the occurrence of colorectal cancer.
In the study, researchers investigated the link between nitrates used to produce bacon and the dangerous chemicals nitrosamines.
Nitrosamines often used in the production of cosmetics and pesticides and are listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as being carcinogenic.
Commenting on the research, lead researcher Professor Chris Elliott explained: “The latest research at Queen’s University Belfast has shown that there is a direct link between nitrites and the formation of nitrosamines.”
He adds: “This means that when people consume bacon –which is currently cured with nitrites in the UK – they could be increasing their risk of contracting cancer…it is certainly beneficial to reduce our intake of nitrates and nitrites from processed meat.
“It is estimated that more than 50 per cent of bowel cancer cases are preventable and lifestyle changes such as improved diet could help.”
Researchers instead concluded by recommending using green tea polyphenols in processed meat to reduce the carcinogenic properties of processed meat.
Processed meat is currently ranked as a Class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organisation, meaning it is known to cause cancer.