Eating red and processed meat—what do scientists say

Recent reports warn about a link between eating red and processed meat and the risk of developing cancer in the gut. These reports have resulted in new nutritional recommendations that advise people to limit their intake of red and processed meats. A recent perspective paper, authored by 23 scientists, published in the latest issue of journal Meat Science underlines the uncertainties in the scientific evidence and points to further research needed to resolve these issues and improve the foundation for future recommendations on the intake of red meat.

The review discusses recent studies on associations between red and processed meat intake and in humans and animals. In animals it is possible to promote cancer by giving the animals a chemical cancer challenge and a basic "standard" diet that is high in meat, but doesn't contain any ingredients that protect and can help the gut stay healthy. This means no vegetables, no fiber, no milk or other sources of calcium. In other words, the "standard" diet of the lab animals is not very comparable to that of humans. The many differences between diets for humans and laboratory animals may explain why the results seem to differ: in humans, the observed association between red and processed meat intake and cancer is relatively small in magnitude, but consistent, and may still present a serious public health impact. The 23 researchers conclude that other foods, in cooperation with the bacteria that live in the gut, may protect the gut so any potential adverse effects of meat may become less pronounced or may even be fully prevented.

The team of scientists further concludes that science does not yet have a full understanding of how food that we eat affects our gut and our health. To get a better grip on this complex issue, it is necessary that improved measures of how much meat people eat, the composition of the meat they eat, and how this affects the risk that cancer develops. At the same time, efforts to make healthier in general need to continue.

More information: The paper is published open access in Meat Science. www.sciencedirect.com/science/… ii/S0309174014000564

Related Stories

Balanced diet required in prevention of cancer

date Sep 06, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Balancing your diet with protective foods rich in fibre and vitamin C can help prevent the formation of cancer causing compounds in the gut, the British Science Festival will hear today.

Caution to pregnant women on red meat diabetes link

date Dec 10, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant can make use of the summer holiday season to adjust their diets and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, according to researchers at the University ...

Processed meat linked to premature death

date Mar 06, 2013

In a huge study of half a million men and women, research in Biomed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine demonstrates an association between processed meat and cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

date 5 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

date 5 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

date 6 hours ago

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

date 9 hours ago

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.