While the work continues to try and find a cure for cancer, scientists are also busy looking for preventative treatments to stop it from developing in the first place. A European team of researchers is taking an usual route to find a solution: they're developing a sausage that could cut out the causes of colon cancer.
The secret ingredients, as it were, are plants and berries - the idea is that these antioxidants can help make the meat safer to eat and prevent colon cancer from developing. The specially enhanced foodstuff would, in theory, effectively combine the benefits of fruit and vegetables with the sausage meat.
"If this hypothesis proves to be true, it will indicate that the risk of colon cancer can be reduced by eating a balanced diet - in other words, together with meat, eat lots of vegetables and other things that contain antioxidants," explained one of the team, Eva Tornberg from Lund University in Sweden.
"In short, the old 'model plate' diet could once again prove to be beneficial. Sausages prepared with antioxidants could be an option to reduce the risk of those who, despite all the advice, still do not get enough antioxidants."
Tornberg and her colleagues have been working with researchers from four other European research institutions to produce the meat, with funding provided by the European Union. Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in Sweden, with 5,000 new cases each year.
Trying to make processed meats healthier is particularly important after the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified it as a Group 1 carcinogen last month. We've covered what that means in detail here, but essentially, there's strong evidence to suggest a link between processed meats and an increased risk of cancer, albeit a small one.
Right now, these super-healthy sausages are still at the early stages of development: if the scientists can come up with a process that works, the next step will be to test them on animals to see if they do indeed have the desired effect. After that, they'll need to verify that they're safe and beneficial for humans to eat.
Ultimately, the aim of the endeavour is to keep meat on the dinner table, at least in moderation. "Meat is a nutritious and non-allergenic food product, with high levels of protein as well high levels of necessary minerals and vitamin B," says Tornberg.