High levels of iron may be one reason why eating red meat raises the risk of bowel cancer, a study has shown.
Iron may interact with a faulty gene in the gut to trigger cancer, scientists at Cancer Research UK said.
Red meat contains large amounts of iron and is also known to increase the likelihood of bowel cancer.
In studies of mice, researchers found that susceptibility to bowel cancer was strongly influenced both by iron and a gene called APC.
When the APC gene was faulty, mice with a high iron intake were two to three times more likely to develop the disease.
The discovery could lead to new cancer treatments that target iron in the bowel.