Popular breakfast foods ‘contain chemicals linked to cancer’, experts warn | The Sun

Popular breakfast foods ‘contain chemicals linked to cancer’, experts warn | The Sun


POPULAR breakfast foods contain chemicals linked to cancer, experts have warned.

While it’s long been known many components of a full English should be eaten in moderation.

But a fresh warning has been given for cold cut meats.

French health authorities said they have confirmed a well-studied link between nitrates added to processed meat and colon cancer.

Colon cancer, also known as bowel cancer, is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, accounting for one in 10 deaths.

Nitrates are added to a range of food products to improve their shelf life and flavour, and to help give pork-based products their pink hue.

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Cold cuts include prosciutto, bacon, salami, and are often put together in charcuterie – a platter with cheeses and crackers. 

In the UK they are staple for a “wine and cheese” feast, but across Europe are favourites in breakfast or added to sandwiches.

It’s a blow to France, which has a prized ham and cured sausage industry.

The national food safety body Anses recommended “reducing consumption” following its research.

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It said its date supported similar conclusions in 2015 from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN body's International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that processed meats should be classified as a group 1 carcinogen.

The warning applied to all processed meats – from the bacon in the US and Britain, to Italian salami, Spanish chorizo, German bratwurst and French charcuterie.

Cancer Research UK says many studies over the past decade have shown that eating lots of red meat and processed meat increases the risk of bowel cancer. 

Processed meat is anything that has been preserved or changed – think ham, bacon, sausages and sliced meats. 

And red meat includes beef, lamb and pork.

It is estimated that around 13 out of 100 bowel cancer cases (around 13 per cent)  in the UK are linked to eating these meats.

And with almost 43,000 cases per year, this suggests thousands of cases could be prevented each year by improving diet.

The WHO warned 50g of processed meat a day – two rashers or 1½ bangers – increased the risk of bowel cancer by 18 per cent.

But researchers from the University of Oxford said in 2019 a mere 25g each day is enough to raise the risk by 20 per cent.

The UK government recommends that people eating more than 90g of red and processed meat a day should reduce it to 70g or less (when cooked).

This is about the same as two sausages or three slices of ham.

A recent study, in 2021, looked at whether 73g per day – the UK average – is a safe level of consumption.

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It found even this moderate amount of red and processed meat increases bowel cancer risk by 32 per cent. 

As well as nitrates, haem and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic amines (PCAs) are chemicals in processed and red meats deemed cancer-causing.

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