Make simple changes to reduce bowel cancer risk

MEAT Most meat eaters love a steak but it's a good idea to reduce our consumption of red meat.
MEAT Most meat eaters love a steak but it's a good idea to reduce our consumption of red meat.
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Could red meat be increasing your risk of bowel cancer?

Beef, lamb and pork are all a great source of protein and minerals plus vitamins such as zinc and iron.

But if you consume too much red meat in your daily diet you could be increasing your risk of bowel cancer.

In the UK, bowel cancer is the third most common type of cancer.

It is estimated that 38,000 people are diagnosed with this disease per year – and 16,000 people die from it.

It is the second most common cancer in women after breast cancer and the third most common in men after prostate and lung cancer.

The recommended daily amount of red meat that can be safely consumed per day is 70g and anyone eating more than 90g of red or processed meat per day should try to cut this down to the recommended daily allowance.

In case you’re in doubt, processed meat is meat that has been smoked, cured, salted or had preservatives added to it, for example sausages, bacon, pate, ham and salami.

It is not always easy to work out if we are taking in more than 90g of red or processed meat per day.

It is probably simpler to understand that quantity in real terms – so 90g is the equivalent of three thinly cut slices of roast beef, lamb or pork and those slices should be about the size of half a slice of bread.

Cutting down to two slices per day will significantly reduce your risk.

Many people tend to worry that they will not get enough protein if they cut down their average consumption of red meat, however here are some good protein-rich alternatives: eggs, fish, lentils, beans, turkey, nuts and some breakfast cereals.

The other thing that can be difficult to do is change the routine or pattern of your meals to fit in these alternatives.

The first thing to know is that the recommendation of 70g per day does not have to be followed each day.

It only suggests that the average daily consumption should not exceed 70g, however it is possible to have one or two meals per week that are rich in red meat, consisting of approximately 175g each if you then have red-meat-free days for the rest of the week.

Try some of these alternative meals:

• At breakfast swap your bacon for extra toast or mushrooms and swap the sausages for vegetarian sausages.

• Stick to chicken pies and roast chicken instead of steak or beef.

• Swap quarter-pounder burgers for hamburgers.

• Increase the amount of vegetables in a stew or casserole and reduce the amount of red meat.

• Change sandwich fillings for left-over chicken or fish.

• Plan your meals in the week and get into a routine of having a meat-free day.

Don’t forget, for more information on bowel cancer you can always visit your local pharmacy.

In addition to reducing the amount of red meat consumed you should try the following to reduce your risk of bowel cancer:

• Stop smoking

• Lose weight so you reach a healthy body mass index of between 20 and 25 (please visit your local pharmacy for a consultation on what your current weight and BMI is and for advice on achieving a healthier target).

• Increase your activity

It really is quite possible to improve your diet so it has a better balance of red meat, white meat (such as chicken), fish vegetables, carbohydrate (eg potatoes pasta and rice) and fruit.

So work on making some small changes.