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Processed meat cancer link

17th August 2009

A UK charity has advised parents that they should not give their children ham in their packed lunches in order to prevent bowel cancer when they are older.

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The World Cancer Research Fund UK said if children developed a liking for ham, bacon and other processed meats - and consumed too much - then they had an increased chance of developing cancer.

However the Food Standards Agency stated that ham and other meats were suitable to give to children but should not be given "too often".

Recent studies have linked the consumption of processed meats in adults with bowel cancer. They suggested that limiting intake of these foods to less than 70g a week - equal to three pieces of bacon - could prevent many cases of the disease.

The WCRF said when meat was cured, salted and had preservatives added, then carcinogenic materials were introduced.

The charity would like to see parents using sandwich fillings other than ham.

Marni Craze, the charity's children's education manager, said: "It is better if children learn to view processed meat as an occasional treat if it is eaten at all."

The Food Standards Agency has released a list of lunchtime meals, which includes ham.

An FSA spokesman said: "Processed meats, such as ham and salami, can form part of a balanced diet and parents shouldn't be concerned about including these in their children's lunchboxes now and again."

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