Health Team

Researchers: Keep processed meats out of kids' lunch boxes

Posted September 4, 2009 3:21 p.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2009 6:38 p.m. EDT

Nonprofit researchers are urging parents to stop putting ham and other processed meats into their children's school lunch boxes due to the risk of cancer.

A study by the World Cancer Research Fund found that eating processed meats, such as bacon, ham and salami, increases the risk of bowel cancer later in life.

Researchers think preservatives might be producing cancer-causing substances.

"It's either the chemicals or what happens to them when they're processed in your body can raise your risk of cancer," said Sian Porter, with the British Dietetic Association.

To make children's lunch boxes healthier, researchers recommended replacing processed meats with snacks such as low-fat cheese and hummus.

Get more tips for healthy lunch boxes.

Over a lifetime, researchers said, even such small changes can help reduce the risk of cancer.

Some parents said they aren't buying those findings, while others said it inspired them to teach their children better habits.

"It won't stop me putting it (processed meat) in the kid's sandwiches at all," one parent said.

"I don't eat a lot of it myself, so I wouldn't be giving it to her," another parent said.