The study conducted in Germany, calculated the impact over 30 years (2020-2050).
It showed that if processed meat were completely removed from the diet, this would significantly reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer – with 6,000 cases prevented among men and 2,500 among women per year.
The study also found that almost 220,000 cases of bowel cancer could be prevented between 2020 and 2050 if processed meat was taken out of diets completely.
Bowel cancer (also known as colorectal cancer) is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and in 2019, over 44,000 cases of the disease were diagnosed.
A previous report from World Cancer Research Fund and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) showed that, among regularly processed meat eaters, each 50g increased the risk of bowel cancer by 16%.
The study’s findings support World Cancer Research Fund’s recommendation to eat little if any, processed meat wherever possible.
Dr Panagiota Mitrou, director of Research and Innovation at the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “These findings further highlight that regularly eating processed meat can significantly increase the risk of bowel cancer.”
“That is why we encourage people to reduce how much-processed meat they eat this Cancer Prevention Action Week to help lower their risk of this common cancer.”
Professor Dr Hermann Brenner at German Cancer Research Center and Study author said: “These findings underline how much the burden of bowel cancer could be reduced by less processed meat consumption.”
“The findings demonstrate the large potential of dietary habits for cancer prevention – and show many preventable cancer cases if people significantly cut down on processed meat.”