Many of us think we can ‘balance out’ our lifestyles, with a few smoothies or hours in the gym making up for a bit of what we fancy.
But when it comes to cancer risk, that isn’t the case – with new guidelines from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) suggesting that ‘no amount’ of processed meat or alcohol is entirely safe.
The advice was unveiled as part of a blueprint to cut rates of the disease by 40%.
(It’s worth noting, though, that other cancer experts suggest that the odd bacon butty won’t lead you to an early grave).
Even small amounts of processed foods such as ham or hot dogs increases bowel cancer risk – and can increase risk of being overweight.
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The WCRF also said that alcohol is directly linked to an increase in risk of six cancers – and recommended that people stick to water.
Prof Linda Bauld of Cancer Research UK said: ‘A bacon butty or glass of wine every so often isn’t anything to worry about, it’s the things you do every day that matter most.’
Dr Giota Mitou, WRCF director of research, said: ‘We are making for the first time separate recommendations on sugar-sweetened drinks and the recommendation is to drink water and unsweetened drinks and to limit consumption of fast foods and other processed foods.
‘When we talk about cancer prevention the strong evidence is that we need to follow a package of lifestyle behaviours. Individuals need to follow as many of these recommendations as possible, not just some of them.
‘The best advice is not to eat processed meat. The risk does increase with consumption. Our Cancer Prevention Recommendations work together as a blueprint to beat cancer that people can trust, because they are based on evidence that has now proved consistent for decades.’