The World Health Organisation's cancer agency says processed meats can lead to colon and other cancers, and red meat is also a likely cause of the disease.Based on the evaluation, processed meat is classified as "carcinogenic to humans" - in the same category as tobacco, asbestos and diesel fumes- and red meat as "probably carcinogenic to humans."
"From the combined analysis of several studies there was about a 17 percent increase of cancers of the colorectum per portion of about 50 grams per day of processed meat. Now that increased risk is about similar for red meat - it's 1.17 per 100 grams - but again the evidence if it's really causally related is not as strong yet."
What is Red meat?
Red meat includes beef, lamb and pork including minced beef, pork chops and roast lamb. It does not include chicken or turkey meat.
What is processed meat?
Processed meat refers to meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. Examples include ham, bacon, pastrami and salami, as well as hot dogs and some sausages. Hamburgers and minced meats only count as processed meat if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives.
Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc and B vitamins. It is one of the main sources of vitamin B12. Advice from the Department of Health is to consume healthier meat or meat products, such as lean cuts of meat and lean mince and cut down on processed meat.