Thursday, November 01, 2007

Meat Groups Disputing New Study

A reports released today by the American Institute of Cancer Research’s (AICR) titled “Second Expert Report” has caused quite a stir in the livestock industry. The report recommended that consumers drastically reduce their consumption of red meat and processed meats.

Compared to 1997, when AICR released its first global report on the association between diet and cancer, the new assessment finds the evidence linking red meat (beef, pork and lamb) to colorectal cancer is more convincing than it was a decade ago. Accordingly, AICR’s expert panel recommends limiting consumption of red meat to 18 ounces (cooked) per week. Beyond this amount, the evidence indicates, every 1.7 ounces of red meat consumed per day increases cancer risk by 15 percent.

The recommendation concerning processed meats is even more rigorous. Based on convincing evidence, the panel recommends avoiding processed meats such as bacon, ham, sausage and lunchmeat. After carefully examining all of the evidence, the panel was not able to find a level at which consumption of processed meat could be reliably considered completely safe. Every 1.7 ounces of processed meat consumed per day increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

“That’s why we recommend that if people eat processed meat at all, they save it for special occasions like ham at Christmas or the occasional hot dog at a baseball game,” said James.

But meat and livestock groups strongly disagreed with this assessment:

National Pork Board:

Consumers should continue to feel good about consuming processed meat as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet,” said Ceci Snyder, a registered dietitian and assistant vice president of consumer marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “Today’s report findings on meat and cancer are misleading as the published data do not support the conclusions reached on the subject.”

Dr. Maureen Story, Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, Center for Food Nutrition and Agriculture Policy, added, “We have to keep this study in perspective. This report relies heavily on epidemiological studies, which cannot establish a cause and effect relationship. Epidemiological study findings are simply clues for further research.”

Cancer prevention is not as simple as cutting out one food or eating more of another, Snyder said.

“The truth is that processed pork fits into established nutrition guidelines, including the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, which recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity and an average of 5.5 ounces from the Meat and Beans group daily,” said Snyder.

National Cattleman's Beef Association:

“The WCRF/AICR recommendations about red meat and cancer are unsubstantiated and offer bad advice for consumers. There are volumes of research about the benefits of red meat in a healthy diet that far outweigh anything we’ve seen today.

“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.

“At a time when Americans are overfed and undernourished, the report’s recommendations are especially disturbing as they are based on weak and inconsistent data.

“Lean beef can be an important part of the solution to the nation’s weight problem because the protein in lean beef helps control appetite and build muscle mass, which is essential to maintaining a healthy weight.

“Beef is the number one source of protein in the diet, which is a fundamental building block to muscle development. In addition, the other nutrients in lean beef – such as iron, zinc and B-vitamins – play a critical role in health by preventing anemia, promoting cognitive function, and building a healthy immune system.

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