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Cancer warning: Cured bacon might be BANNED in the UK over tumour health risk

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Campaigners want the British government to tell the pork industry to phase out the use of nitrates, which are used to cure bacon, which gives it its distinctive pink colouring. The initiative is being led by Conservative MP Dr Daniel Poulter, who is a practising NHS doctor. Joining Poulter is Labour MP Rosie Cooper, the SNP health spokesperson, Martyn Day, and the Liberal Democrat peer Lady Walmsley, who are among the signatories of a letter about nitrates to Steve Barclay, the new health secretary.

The move is also supported by Professor Chris Elliott, the director of the Institute for Global Food Safety at Queen’s University in Belfast.

Professor Elliott said: “Nitrites are found in many foods and can be perfectly harmless.

“But when they are used to cure bacon, and that bacon is then cooked and ingested, they produce carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach.”

The letter stated: “Studies carried out by the World Health Organization, UK, US and European universities, and even the UK government’s own agencies suggest a link between the consumption of nitrite-cured meat and bowel cancer.”

Bowel cancer is the cause of over 10,000 deaths each year in the UK.

The letter urges minister to pass legislation to “ban the use of nitrites in food production”.

Moreover, it penned that there are “tasty and affordable nitrite-free meat products” now widely available in British supermarkets.

This means that “the great British public need never fear being deprived of the bacon sandwich”.

The letter continued: “Given advances in food manufacturing mean we can get the familiar colour and flavour of our bacon without nitrites, there is simply no good reason not to do this.”

Some British meat producers already make nitrite-free bacon, including M&S, Waitrose and Better Naked.

The National Pig Association stated: “Processors have already made significant historical progress.

“And this year alone some processors have reduced their ingoing nitrites by up to 60 percent.”

A spokesperson for the British Meat Producers Association said: “The ongoing work to reduce nitrites in cured pork products is one that the British meat industry is actively engaged in.”

As reported in The Guardian, the spokesperson added: “At every stage the UK processing industry strictly adheres to regulations set by the Food Standards Agency and keeps nitrite and nitrate levels within the legal limits.”

Cancer risk factors

Cancer Research UK highlighted that studies show that eating a lot of red and processed meat increases the risk of bowel cancer.

Other risk factors include: eating too little fibre; being overweight; smoking tobacco; and drinking alcohol; in addition to increasing age.

As for breast cancer, drinking alcohol, being overweight, and getting older are all risk factors.

While risk factors for cancer increase the likelihood of a tumour developing, it does not mean cancer will develop.

Moreover, even if you minimise your risk factors for cancer, it does not guarantee you will not develop cancer.

Risk factors for breast cancer, for example, also include a sedentary lifestyle and taking the contraceptive pill.

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