Our Colorectal Cancer Report is Making International Headlines

Here in the States, the report of the AICR/WCRF Continuous Update Project (CUP) Expert on Colorectal Cancer, published yesterday, is in the news.

Here’s the WebMD story.

And here’s the Washington Post coverage.

It’s also been picked up by the Arizona Republic, New York Newsday, as several other newspapers throughout the US and Canada.

The American Meat Institute has released a statement expressing skepticism regarding the CUP Expert Panel’s consensus judgment that convincing evidence links red and processed meat to colorectal cancer, and urging “common sense.”

We at AICR stand by the CUP Expert Panel’s systematic and comprehensive evaluation of the evidence, but we do agree with the AMI on one point: The science on colorectal cancer does not support eliminating red meat from the diet. In fact, AICR recommends moderating intake of beef, pork and lamb to 18 ounces (cooked) per week — below this level, the increase in colorectal cancer  risk is very small; above this amount, the increase is enough to warrant concern. When it comes to processed meat, however, the situation is different. An increase in risk is seen with even relatively low consumption of processed meats like hot dogs, cold cuts and bacon — that’s why AICR recommends saving these foods for special occasions, like a hot dog at a ball game, or a slice of ham at Easter.

Our report has people around the globe talking. It made the cover of  the UK’s Daily Express, and was prominently featured in the other national UK papers as well. In Australia, it made the Sydney Morning-Herald and the Daily Sun. It even found its way into Russia’s Pravda.

There’s surely more coverage of this major report on colorectal cancer risk to come — let us know in the comments if you spot any in your local paper or on your local news.


Cautious Optimism for Survivorship Findings at AICR Afternoon Session

Moving more every day in any way is an important component to cancer survival.

At the Diet, Physical Activity and Survivorship session of AICR’s annual meeting, leading researchers pointed to the latest developments in lifestyle changes that might affect risk and death from major cancers. Catherine M. Alfano of the National Cancer Institute stressed the desire of cancer survivors, now numbering more than 12 million in the US, to “take control and actively participate” in beating cancer.

In breast cancer, physical activity has been studied most and found to have an impact on preventing recurrence and improving quality of life, as well as reducing negative side-effects of treatment.

Human trials looking at the impact of physical activity, diet and obesity on other kinds of cancers are sorely needed — as borne out by evidence presented by Jeffrey Meyerhardt, Ph.D, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who noted that studies linking physical activity with preventing colon cancer have shown clear results, but design of studies on survivors have varied.

Finding evidence on recurrence and mortality is more complex, Dr. Meyerhardt said, such as in looking into the various stages of colon cancer diagnosis, so these studies must be large and long-term, accumulating data over decades.

Prostate cancer and physical activity also has not been adequately studied, although presenter Edward Giovanucci, MD, of Harvard University said that being active before diagnosis is best, and that vigorous activity seemed to help survivors in the later stages of prostate cancer. He noted that brisk walking (3 miles an hour or more) for at least 7 hours per week did seem to have a positive effect in a small study of prostate cancer survivors. As for obesity, studies so far do not show an effect on survival from prostate cancer, but they may affect screening and treatment effectiveness, which may in turn affect survival of this cancer. A low-fat diet also seems to help survival rates.

The presenters emphasized the many health benefits of a physically active and prudent-diet lifestyle besides the likely cancer prevention and survival benefits, including lower risk for diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health problems — in other words it’s smart to make healthy changes while we are still healthy so that even after a cancer diagnosis, we are more likely to survive.


Shocking: Meat Industry “Report” Finds No Link Between Meat, Cancer

It bears repeating: Our message at AICR is evidence-based, not agenda-driven.

One of our 10 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention is to limit meat consumption. Our Expert Panel judged that the evidence linking diets high in red meat and processed meat to colorectal cancer is convincing.  So they said:

To reduce your cancer risk, eat no more than 18 oz. (cooked weight) per week of red meats like beef, pork and lamb, and avoid processed meat such as ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and sausages.”

In our materials, we show you how easy it is to follow that recommendation.  Our recipes de-emphasize meat in favor of vegetables, grains, beans and fruit.  We suggest ways to divide up those 18 ounces per week.  And we recommend saving hot dogs and sausage for special occasions.

Even so, our recommendation on meat isn’t popular with special interests.  Vegetarian groups don’t like it because it leaves room on the plate for moderate amounts of meat.

And the meat industry? They see our recommendation as an attack on their bottom line, and do everything they can to attack the recommendation, and the exhaustive report it came from.

Case in point: The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has just released their own “technical summary” of the science on the meat-cancer link.  Three guesses what it concludes.

Now that they’ve published it themselves, the rest of the scientific community can finally get a look at this document members of the meat lobby have been talking about — but not showing to anyone — for two years.

So: How does it hold up to our Expert Report?  See for yourself.