Expert comment on the increase in bowel cancer cases

Cancer Research UK released new statistics yesterday revealing a man’s risk of bowel cancer has doubled since the 1970s (27th July 2011)(1).

Dr Carrie Ruxton, member of the Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) said: “While bowel cancer cases in men have doubled, there has been a 10.5 per cent decrease in red meat consumption since the 1970s(2), contradicting Cancer Research UK’s message that eating less meat will reduce chances of bowel cancer.

Multiple risk factors are indicated in the rise of cancer cases, including people living longer with greater screening services picking up more instances of bowel cancer.  Individuals may also be at a higher risk because of a combination of lifestyle choices, including a lack of exercise, rather than consumption of a single protein. 

There are negative consequences for older people who do not eat enough red meat because they are often lacking in iron, vitamin B12, zinc and vitamin D, of which red meat is a rich source of.

This research adds little to existing science and consumers should continue to enjoy lean red meat as part of a balanced diet, as indicated by the British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) report on Red Meat in the Diet, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s (SACN) report on Iron and Health, and the Government’s Eatwell Plate approach to promoting a healthy balanced diet.”

For more information and advice on the role of red meat in the diet please click here.


(1)P D Sasieni. Et al. What is the lifetime risk of developing cancer?: the effect of adjusting for multiple primaries. British Journal of Cancer. 105, 460-465. 26  July 2011.


The Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from EBLEX and BPEX.