Is Red Meat “The Enemy”? AICR’s Take

raw meat on wooden plateContext.

It’s what every examination of the science of diet and health requires. For too long, authorities have demonized specific foods in an attempt to explain poor health outcomes, or anointed the latest “superfood” a panacea against disease.

That’s more or less the gist of a new article in the New York Times, “Red Meat is Not The Enemy.” The author suggests that experts historically “cherry-pick” data from individual studies to single out one nutrient or food in an attempt to determine its role in human health.

The Totality of Evidence

We agree that this can be a problem, and a misleading one. And that’s precisely why, at the American Institute for Cancer Research, when we perform our ongoing analyses of the global evidence on the connections between cancer risk and lifestyle (read: diet, weight, physical activity), we do so using systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses. (We call it the Continuous Update Project, or CUP.) Continue reading


Three drinks a day can cause liver cancer, new report finds

An analysis of worldwide research on diet, weight, physical activity and liver cancer has found strong evidence that consuming approximately three or more alcoholic drinks a day causes liver cancer. Published today, the finding provides the clearest indication so far of how many drinks actually cause liver cancer.r-uauy

As a member of the independent panel of scientists that reviewed the worldwide research, this is a significant finding that I hope will help reduce the global number of cases of liver cancer. Currently, it’s the second most common cause of death from cancer worldwide, accounting for 746,000 deaths globally in 2012.

How alcohol causes liver cancer

Excessive alcohol consumption over a period of time can cause damage to the liver and lead to cirrhosis (scarring and hardening of the liver), which is known to increase the risk of this cancer. We know that 90-95% of liver cancer cases have underlying cirrhosis. Alcohol consumption is also carcinogenic to humans, has tumor-promoting effects, and is associated with increased body fat. The latter is a concern because obesity is a risk factor for accumulation of fat in the liver, which may lead to cirrhosis and also increase liver cancer risk. Continue reading


How New Dietary Guidelines Report Align with Cancer-Protective Diet

New dietary guidelines may soon include increased emphasis on dietary patterns, fruits and vegetables while limiting added sugars, red meat and sugary beverages, if the recommendations released today from the Advisory Committee’s report are accepted.

The report is comprehensive — 571-pages long — and the American Institute for Cancer Research is cited throughout. You can read the highlights of how the report findings correspond with a cancer-protective diet in our press release.

Overall, the report aligns closely with AICR’s evidence-based Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, which focus on a plant-based diet. In the executive summary of the report:

The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DGAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.

The expert committee also reports on the importance of focusing on eating patterns and foods, as opposed to single nutrients or compounds. As the report states:

These dietary patterns can be achieved in many ways and should be tailored to the individual’s biological and medical needs as well as socio-cultural preferences.

Here at AICR, we have the New American Plate, a flexible way of eating that centers around plant foods. Two-thirds or more of your plate should have fruits, vegetables, whole grains or other plant foods; the rest of your plate has milk, meat, fish or other animal foods. The goal is to consume high amounts of healthful plant foods both for cancer prevention and health, but also to get to/stay a healthy weight.

Yesterday, we wrote about how the report is dropping the longstanding recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol. Here’s how that fits into a cancer-protective diet.

You can go here to download the report and/or the executive summary.

Next comes a public comment period, where there’s also a date for commenting in person. You can submit your comments through their site. And you can also tell us your thoughts about the report in the comments on the blog.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report is the scientific foundation for the upcoming Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Released every 5 years, the guidelines become the basis for food, school and nutrition policy.