Red meat and cancer 

The media has featured many scare stories linking red meat consumption to cancer over recent years, however there is no  evidence showing that eating  red and processed meat as part of a healthy balanced diet  can cause cancer.

Some research has suggested a weak association between high red meat consumption and a small increase in a risk of cancer.  It is this research that has generated many of the media headlines. No direct cause and effect between red and processed meat and cancer has ever been established. 

Humans have been eating red meat for millions of years and today it still plays an important role in the diets of the vast majority of people in the UK.  Red meat makes a significant contribution to a variety of vital vitamins and minerals that the body needs, including iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins.  Advances in animal rearing and butchery technique mean that beef, pork and lamb contain significantly less fat than they did 30 years ago. 

Since 2010, UK adults have been advised to keep their daily red meat consumption to an average of 70g [1] , and that is what the majority has done. The average intake in UK adults is 71g [2], with nine out ten women and six out of ten men well within the recommendation. 

The vast majority of people do not need to worry about media scare stories and can continue to enjoy red meat as part of a healthy balanced diet.  

[1] SACN (2010) Iron and Health. www.sacn.gov.uk/pdfs/draft_iron_and_health_report_complete_june_2009_consultation.pdf

[2] Bates B et al (2014) National Diet and Nutrition Survey: rolling programme years 1-4. www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-diet-and-nutrition-survey-results-from-years-1-to-4-combined-of-the-rolling-programme-for-2008-and-2009-to-2011-and-2012