Men eat almost twice as much processed meat as women but are less likely to know it can cause cancer, research has suggested.
Foods such as bacon, ham, salami and some sausages can increase the risk of bowel cancer.
Two rashers of bacon a day throughout life has been linked to a 20% rise in the chance of getting the disease.
But men are largely ignorant of the effects, with only 36% knowing of the link compared with 41% of women, according to a poll for the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), out today.
Men in the UK eat an average of 50g of processed meat a day (equivalent to two rashers of bacon) compared with just 24g for women, research has found.
The average person has a risk of bowel cancer of five in 100, but this rises to six in 100 if they eat an extra 50g of processed meat per day.
Scientists estimate that 3,700 of the 37,000 new cases of bowel cancer in the UK each year could be prevented if everyone ate less than 70g of processed meat per week. This is roughly the equivalent of three rashers of bacon.
Dr Rachel Thompson, science programme manager for WCRF, said: “The evidence that eating processed meat increases bowel cancer risk is convincing and this is why we recommend people avoid eating it. But despite the strength of the evidence, awareness levels are low and this seems to especially be the case in men.”