Report prompts lower consumption of processed meats

In collaboration with the Press Association

Consumers are trying to eat less processed meat and keep their weight in check following the publication of a cancer prevention report by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) last year, a survey has found.

The report warned that people who regularly eat 150g of processed meat per day - equivalent to two sausages and three rashers of bacon - are two-thirds more likely to develop bowel cancer than those who rarely eat processed meat.

WCRF scientists also found convincing evidence that excess body fat contributes to at least six types of cancer, and that a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables may reduce the risk of some cancers, including cancer of the stomach and oesophagus.

A new survey by YouGov, commissioned by WCRF to mark one year since the publication of the report, suggests that many people have taken these key messages on board.

Out of 2,124 polled, 11 per cent said they had tried to cut down on processed meat as a result of the media's coverage of the report.

However, older people were found to have taken the advice more seriously than younger people, with 37 per cent of over-55s cutting down on processed meat compared to just six per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds.

The survey also found that 26 per cent of people have tried to eat more fruit and vegetables since the report; 18 per cent are keeping a closer eye on their weight; ten per cent have attempted to eat less red meat; and nine per cent have made an effort to drink less alcohol.

Overall, the survey has remained in the minds of the majority of the British public; only 23 per cent of respondents claimed to have no recollection of the report in the media.

Richard Evans, head of communications for WCRF, said that the fact that so many people had tried to make lifestyle changes as a result of the charity's report was "really encouraging".

"This survey shows that if people are told how they can reduce their risk of cancer then many of them will make changes," he claimed.

However, Mr Evans noted that many people are still unaware of the impact diet and exercise has on cancer risk, with just 57 per cent recognising that a poor diet increases their risk of cancer.

"This means that we still have a lot of work to do to get across the message to everyone that about a third of cancers could be prevented just by eating healthily, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight," he concluded.Please help us improve our news stories by taking our short survey