The World Health Organisation is reportedly planning to declare that bacon, sausages and other processed meat cause cancer.
Red meat is also expected to be listed as being “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
A source told The Daily Mail that the announcements were expected to be made on Monday with processed meat put in the same category as cigarettes, alcohol and asbestos.
The NHS Choices website says that “evidence shows that there is probably a link between eating red and processed meat and the risk of bowel cancer”.
“People who eat a lot of these meats are at higher risk of bowel cancer than those who eat small amounts,” it adds.
However it says beef, lamb and pork “can form part of a healthy diet” and that red meat is “a good source of protein and provides vitamins and minerals, such as iron and zinc”.
The World Cancer Research Fund says: “There is strong evidence that eating a lot of these foods [red and processed meat] increases your risk of bowel cancer.”
Farmers and the meat industry have expressed concern about the impact on sales if the WHO lists processed meat as a carcinogen.
Betsy Booren, of the North American Meat Institute, said recently: “If they determine that red and processed meat causes cancer – and I think they will – that moniker will stick … It could take decades and billions of dollars to change that.”