Red Meat, Bacon, Processed Meats and Cancer: Back in the News

On Monday the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) will release their evaluation of the cancer risk associated with red and processed meat. The findings, leaked to the press, will reportedly support AICR’s analysis of the research on this issue and our recommendation to limit red med meat and avoid processed meat.

updated statement: Diet–Cancer Experts Welcome WHO Report on Meat and Cancer

Here at AICR we haven’t had a chance to read the full IARC report yet. When we do, we’ll update this blog post with our reaction.43846009_s

In the meantime, here is what we know for certain:

  1. Research shows a clear and convincing link between diets high in red meat and risk for colorectal cancer.
  2. Research shows a clear and convincing link between even small amounts of hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats to colorectal cancer.

The IARC report may be new, but the evidence showing a link between red meats and colorectal cancer is not news. For years we have been recommending that Americans reduce the amount of red meat (beef, pork, lamb) in their diets and avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and cold cuts. This advice grows out of our report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective and our recent report on colorectal cancer, This report, part of the Continuous Update Project, analyzed the global scientific research into the link between diet, physical activity, weight and cancer.

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Nutrition Conference, Trends and Takeaways

Straight from Nashville, we’re just back from the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo – a meeting highlighting the latest research on how foods affect our health and diseases, such as cancer risk. It’s a conference geared towards dietitians, so it’s also a place where companies showcase their health-related foods.

What were the big food trends and research takeaways related to cancer risk? Here’s a few of the conference highlights.

From the expo hall

several cereals are now incorporating sorghum

several cereals are now incorporating sorghum

– Beans and whole grains are big. This is a crowd that loves these foods – as do we here at AICR – but there appears to be a revival of beans and lentil products making their way into the supermarkets. There were numerous new ideas to cook with lentils, a high protein and high fiber food, including these recipes: Coconut Cream Overnight Oats and Lentils and Lentil Fudge.

The ancient grain sorghum also appears to be increasingly making its way into products. It’s drought-resistant and gluten free, two traits that are making it popular. (Plain, it tastes similar to barley.) Sorghum can be served as a hot breakfast cereal, as a side or salad mixed with vegetables, or in stews and soups, like this Chicken, Leek and Sorghum soup. Continue reading

Misleading Journal Article Attacks US Dietary Guidelines Report, Earns Swift Rebuttal

Today the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an editorial that attacks the science behind the U.S. Dietary Guidelines report. It’s a surprising development for several reasons: the BMJ is a prestigious journal, yet the piece contains several basic factual errors, and it arrives just as meat and sugar industry lobbyists are seeking ways to derail the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which government officials are now in the Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 12.13.58 PMprocess of writing. The Guidelines have the potential to help prevent thousands of cancer and other chronic diseases.

The piece, written by a journalist who last year published a book called The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in the American Diet, claims the report by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) “does not take into account all the relevant scientific evidence” and is marked by an “overall lack of sound and proper methods.” It goes on to list several specific studies that weren’t included, and to question the inclusion of observational evidence that does not meet what it considers “established” methods of analysis.

Within hours, the article’s misleading statements earned this swift and spirited rebuke on the website The Verge. That post addresses the BMJ article’s errors in great detail, and we at AICR encourage you to read it. Continue reading