Does anyone dare eat meat nowadays? After the World Health Organisation (WHO) compared ham sandwiches to cigarettes and researchers at the University of Texas discovered that barbecued meat (oh, the irony) could lead to kidney cancer, the carnivorous diet is looking less and less appealing.
Not surprising, then, that nearly a third of Brits cut back on meat following the WHO announcement and almost everyone you know seems to be going "flexitarian." What's next? Notoriously militant anti-meat activists running for public office? Oh wait.
For any meat-eaters left out there: cover your ears, because today sees news of yet another link between cancer and our your old friend bacon.
Published by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), the new report analysed 89 medical studies covering 17 million adults to explore possible connections between diet and the development of stomach cancer.
Researchers found "strong evidence" to show that eating the equivalent of 50 grams of processed meat—that's two rashers of bacon—a day could lead to increased risk of developing the cancer. Drinking three or more alcoholic drinks a day was found to be just as bad, and there was some evidence to show that consuming foods preserved through salting methods, such as pickled vegetables or dried fish, could also lead to stomach cancer.
Dr. Rachel Thompson, head of research interpretation at the WCRF explained: "We can now say, for the first time, that drinking alcohol, eating processed meat, and being overweight or obese can all increase the risk of developing stomach cancers."
Stomach cancer causes around 5,000 deaths every year in the UK but WCRF researchers say that more than 1,200 cases could be prevented if people cut back on processed meat and consumed less alcohol.
Thompson added: "These findings will hopefully help people better understand what increases their risk of cancer so that they can make informed decisions about their lifestyle choices."
Of course, there are a myriad of medical studies already linking salty, processed food and excessive alcohol consumption with health problems—cancer included—but WCRF researchers say that their findings are the first to establish a specific link between diet and stomach cancer.
Report author Michael Leitzmann from the University of Regensburg said: "The findings of this latest evidence report from World Cancer Research Fund are groundbreaking and show there is strong evidence linking the risk of developing stomach cancers to a number of different lifestyle factors, such as drinking alcohol and eating processed meat."
It might be time to give that flexitarian thing a go.