April 17 (UPI) -- Eating even a moderate amount of red or processed meat may put people at a higher risk for bowel cancer, a new study says.
People who eat 76 grams of processed meat a day gives them a 20 percent higher risk of getting bowel cancer than those who eat only 21 grams, according to findings published Wednesday in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
"Our results strongly suggest that people who eat red and processed meat four or more times a week have a higher risk of developing bowel cancer than those who eat red and processed meat less than twice a week," Tim Key, deputy director at the University of Oxford's cancer epidemiology unit and study co-author, said in a news release.
The researchers discovered that for every slice of ham or bacon a person ate each day, and for every slice of roast beef or piece of lamb chop, risk shot up 19 percent.
"The World Health Organization classifies processed meat as carcinogenic and red meat as probably carcinogenic -- but most previous research looked at people in the 1990s or earlier, and diets have changed significantly since then, so our study gives a more up-to-date insight that is relevant to mean consumption today," Key said.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading killer among all cancers in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"This doesn't necessarily mean cutting out red and processed meat entirely, but you may want to think about simple ways to reduce how much you have and how often," said Julie Sharp, who runs U.K.'s head of health information, in a news release. "Although breaking habits we've had for a long time can be hard, it's never too late to make healthy changes to our diet. You could try doing meat-free Mondays, looking for recipes using fresh chicken and fish or swapping meat for pulses like beans and lentils in your usual meals."