The American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund released a report Wednesday showing that the risk of cancer is higher in individuals with excess body fat. One of the recommendations from the report was to lower intake of red meat.
This was quickly disputed by several meat groups, including the American Meat Institute.
"WCRF's conclusions are extreme, unfounded and out of step with dietary guidelines," said AMI Foundation Vice President of Scientific Affairs Randy Huffman, Ph.D. "Headlines associated with this report may give consumers another case of nutrition whiplash. The consistent finding in diet and cancer research is inconsistency. No health groups should be dispensing clear-cut recommendations on specific foods when studies continue to contradict each other time after time."
Echoing those sentiments was the Nation Cattlemen's Beef Association.
"The WCRF/AICR recommendations about red meat and cancer are unsubstantiated and offer bad advice for consumers," says NCBA's Vice President of Nutrition Mary Young. "There is no evidence red meat causes cancer, according to a recent 'Assessment of Red Meat and Cancer' by independent scientists. The comprehensive review evaluated every available epidemiological study on red meat and six types of cancer and concluded there was no causal link. How the WCRF review could come to a different conclusion is perplexing."
Also weighing in on the subject was the National Pork Board, which says the report's findings on meat and cancer are misleading as the published data do not support the conclusions reached on the subject and detracts from the significantly greater risks associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity and lack of physical activity.
"We have to keep this study in perspective," says Dr. Maureen Storey of the University of Maryland's Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture. "This report relies heavily on epidemiological studies, which cannot establish a cause and effect relationship. Epidemiological study findings are simply clues for further research."
The causes of cancer involve many complex factors that range from genetics to lifestyle and so many others. The groups opposing the report contend that cancer prevention is not as simple as cutting out one food or eating more of another.