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.
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.
In the meantime, here is what we know for certain:
Research shows a clear and convincing link between diets high in red meat and risk for colorectal cancer.
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.
A new study that adds to the evidence on diet and colorectal cancer suggests that vegetarians have a lower risk of this cancer than non-vegetarians, with fish-eaters — pescovegetarians — showing the lowest risk of the non-meat eating groups.
The study was published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine and it will be a part of AICR/WCRF’s ongoing collection of the worldwide research. The latest AICR/WCRF report on colorectal cancer concluded that diets high in red meat increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
The study collected the eating and other lifestyle habits of almost 78,000 Seventh-Day Adventists, a group that traditionally advocates vegetarian and healthy eating. Researchers categorized the group into those who ate meat regularly and four vegetarian patterns: 1) ate fish regularly; 2) ate milk and eggs regularly 3) ate small amounts of meats and fish; and 4) ate no meats, dairy or any animal food (vegans).
Overall, vegetarians had lower BMI, ate less fat, red meat, and processed meat, and ate more fiber.
Over the past three decades there’s been a slight but steady decline in colorectal cancer incidence here in the US, thanks in large part to increased screening. Now a study out this week showing that rates of this cancer are increasing among young people — below the typical screening age — highlights the importance of people of all ages adopting healthy behaviors that can halve the risk of colorectal cancer.
The study – published in JAMA Surgery – found that among 20- to 34-year-olds, the data indicates incidence of colon and rectal cancer will increase by 90% and 124%, respectively, by 2030. Among the 35 to 49 year olds, rates are estimated to increase by 28% and 46%, respectively.
This large study confirms previous research on incidence trends, and it points to a growing public health problem, the authors note. Lifestyle and behavioral factors such as obesity may be a possible cause.
AICR estimates that half of all colorectal cancer cases are preventable if people were to eat healthier diets, move more and stay lean.