Red meat and cancer

A report on bowel cancer was released today (23 May 2011) by the World Cancer Research Fund.

Maureen Strong, senior nutritionist with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, said: “The updated WCRF review of the evidence on colorectal cancer appears to show nothing different from claims made previously.    

“The recommendation of a 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.

“It is suggested that high consumers of red meat may benefit from reducing their intake to average. However, it is very difficult to tease out the impact of an individual food or food group to our health. Confounding factors, such as the lack of physical activity, body weight and general eating patterns all have a part to play. This suggests an individual may be at higher risk because of a combination of lifestyle choices rather than consumption of a single protein. 

“Fresh red meat is rarely consumed on its own but combined with other food groups, like those containing fibre in main meals or sandwiches, and the WCRF acknowledges that fibre has a positive effect on reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. 

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