Red meat and bowel cancer

The World Cancer Research Fund recently released a review of the evidence on colorectal cancer (CRC) (23 May 2011).

Mr Roger Leicester, specialist in colorectal cancer and endoscopy and member of MAP, said: “The updated WCRF review of the evidence on colorectal cancer appears to show nothing different from claims made previously, the studies use different definitions of meat and do not specifically consider lean red meat. There is a hypothesis that the haem iron in red meat could be linked with CRC but the evidence for this is very weak. In the recent SACN report on Iron and Health the expert panel found no evidence to suggest iron plays a role in the development of cancer.


“The recommendation of  500g of red meat per week is unchanged from the previous WCRF report and tallies with current average consumption levels in the UK so there is no reason for the vast majority of people to think about altering their consumption. However, as WCRF conclude, overcooked or burned meat should be avoided.


 “This update from WCRF adds little to existing science and consumers should continue to enjoy lean red meat as part of a balanced diet as indicated by the British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) report on Red Meat in the Diet, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s (SACN) report on Iron and Health, and the Government’s Eatwell Plate approach to promoting a healthy balanced diet.”

For more information and advice on the role of red meat in the diet please click here.

The Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from EBLEX and BPEX.