Cancer researchers say there is ‘no proof’ red and processed meats cause cancer

Cancer risk is consistently linked to unhealthy lifestyle habits. While the link is not always clear, certain foods are believed to be raise a person’s risk. Red and processed meats have tended to be singled out as particularly risky, with experts linking processed meat to bowel cancer and eating lots of red meat to cancer. Researchers today have made some controversial claims to the contrary.

People should continue to enjoy steak, sausages and bacon

Study experts

People should continue to enjoy steak, sausages and bacon, experts have said, as they claimed there the current evidence linking red and processed meats to cancer risk is not robust and reliable enough.

In a move that is already causing uproar, the team of researchers are saying that people should carry on as they are – enjoying three to four portions of red and processed meat per week on average.

Their claims are at odds with recommendations from health organisations including the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which has told people to avoid processed meat altogether or eat very little of it, while limiting red meat to about three portions a week.

The new findings, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, challenge the legitimacy of the current guidelines, claiming they are based on very low-quality evidence.

They came to the same conclusion about the risks from eating red and processed meat as other researchers, but said the findings were so weak they did not warrant people being told to cut down.

The WCRF gathered a team of organisations – including from the World Health Organisation – to hit back at the latest findings, saying there is good evidence of a link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer.

In response, the team – which included 14 experts from seven countries – said their analysis offered the “most up-to-date evidence on the topic”.

Study author Bradley Johnston, associate professor at Dalhousie University in Canada, said: “Based on the research, we cannot say with any certainty that eating red or processed meat causes cancer, diabetes or heart disease.”

Propping up his claim, Johnston said: “From 12 randomised controlled trials enrolling about 54,000 individuals, we did not find a statistically significant or an important association in the risk of heart disease, cancer or diabetes for those that consumed less red or processed meat.”

Adding: “Our bottom line recommendation – which is a weak recommendation based on low-quality evidence – is that for the majority of people, not everyone, continuing their red and processed meat consumption is the right approach.”

Dr Giota Mitrou, director of research at the WCRF, said the new interpretation of the research “could be putting people at risk by suggesting they can eat as much red and processed meat as they like without increasing their risk of cancer.

“However, this is not the case.

“The message people need to hear is that we should be eating no more than three portions of red meat a week and avoiding processed meat altogether.

“We stand by our rigorous research of the last 30 years and urge the public to follow the current recommendations on red and processed meat.”

The controversial claims follow a number of studies warning people of the health dangers posed by eating too much processed and red meat.

In April, a separate study led by Oxford University and funded by Cancer Research UK, found that even small amounts of red and processed meat – such as a rasher of bacon a day – can increase the risk of bowel cancer.

They estimated that eating three rashers of bacon a day rather than just one could increase the risk of bowel cancer by 20 per cent.

Source: Read Full Article