What the experts say
Dr Carrie Ruxton and Professor Robert Pickard from the Meat Advisory Panel share their views on reports linking red meat with cancer and the important role red meat plays in the diet.
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Dr Ian Johnson, Emeritus Fellow of the Institute of Food Research, “Although there is epidemiological evidence for a statistically significant association between processed meat consumption and bowel cancer, it is important to emphasise that the size of the effect is relatively small, and the mechanism is poorly defined. “It is certainly very inappropriate to suggest that any adverse effect of bacon and sausages on the risk of bowel cancer is comparable to the dangers of tobacco smoke, which is loaded with known chemical carcinogens and increases the risk of lung cancer in cigarette smokers by around 20 fold.”
Professor Richard Knox, formerly of the Institute of Cancer Research, “most cancer deaths will not be due to bowel cancer and even fewer linked to meat consumption.”
Dr Elizabeth Lund, an independent consultant in nutritional and gastrointestinal health and former researcher, “This is not a surprising outcome but needs to be put in perspective. Very few people in Europe eat sufficient meat to fall into the high meat consumption category.
“It will be interesting to see what the report says about how much is safe. Meat is such a good source of iron and zinc and many women are short of these key micronutrients. Half of teenage girls have insufficient iron intake.”