Health Care

Relax, meat might not kill you after all

Relax, meat might not kill you after all”

Public Health England officials told BBC News they had no intention of reviewing their advice on limiting meat intake.

The panel's recommendations for red meat intake by individuals were not appreciably different from that made by other organisations, such as the World Cancer Research Fund, given that current consumption in many countries was about 3 to 4 portions per week.

Researchers are hoping that this new study will influence future dietary recommendations. It also does not suggest that people should eat more of such foods.

They studied 12 trials with 54,000 people and found no statistically significant or important association between meat consumption and the risk of heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

Based on a series of five high-quality systematic reviews of the relationship between meat consumption and health, a panel of experts recommends that most people can continue to eat red and processed meat at their average current consumption levels. Scary headlines linking red meat with an increased risk of breast cancer need to be taken with, well, a grain of salt. The study showed that if Canadians reduce our consumption of red or processed meat by half a servicing per week, we could prevent about 8,700 or 16, 600 cancer cases, respectively by 2042.

Professor Tim Key, cancer expert at Oxford University, said: "There's substantial evidence that processed meat can cause bowel cancer".

The recommendations are "sure to be controversial, but [they are] based on the most comprehensive review of the evidence to date", Dr. Aaron Carroll, the associate dean for research mentoring, and Tiffany Doherty, an assistant professor, both at the Indiana University School of Medicine who were not part of the reviews, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

He added: 'As far as I can see, for the majority of important outcomes (death, cancer rates, heart disease), people choosing to eat less meat and those who are told to eat less meat or given less meat to eat have a small benefit, but this benefit might not be meaningful enough to impact on the population levels of these outcomes'.

The WCRF advises eating "little, if any" processed meat and only "moderate amounts" of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb - with a weekly limit of 500 grams (17.6 ounces) cooked weight.

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"This is perplexing, given the. clear evidence for harm associated with high red meat intake", says Frank Hu, the chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

But many leading nutrition experts say that isn't the best way to judge nutrition research.

The new red meat review has no declared ties to industry funding, but the methodology for the two studies is the same.

"People need to make their own decisions".

Dietary studies are notoriously hard to do because people may not always eat what they say they do or may not remember. Reducing LDL cholesterol likewise reduces one's risk of developing heart disease, a very common condition that claims millions of lives every year.

"(The research released Monday) is a high-quality meta-analysis study and I think when people receive this information, they're going to be confused about the messaging about red meat and processed meat", said Taylor. The new analysis also did not consider environment-related or ethical reasons for avoiding meat, which are valid concerns as well. This report will confuse the public.

"We believe that authoritative organizations shouldn't be telling the public broadly what to do", he said.

He did not question the integrity, expertise and good intentions of the leadership team and panel, but he had some reservations about the "guidelines" they had issued.

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