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What do scientists say about eating red and processed meat?

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. You can check out the full article, "The role of red and processed meat in colorectal cancer development: A review, based on findings from a workshop," published online in the Elsevier journal Meat Science. since February 24, 2014. The recent perspective paper in Meat Science cautions about uncertainties in scientific evidence.

What do scientists say about eating red meat?
What do scientists say about eating red meat?
Photo by Aaron Davidson

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. The recent perspective paper also points to further research needed to resolve these issues and improve the foundation for future recommendations on the intake of red meat. Also see the article, "Eating Meat When You Have High Cholesterol - WebMD."

When you look at studies of what scientists say, it's also important to find out who funded the studies, the meat industry, the government, or independent research sources not associated with making any type of income from selling meat products or obtaining funds from any corporation associated with meat processing or sales.

What you also may want to look for in any given study are ingredients in foods that help you stay healthy, including what foods are helpful to protect your stomach and intestines, brain, heart, arteries, or any other part of your body from getting clogged with plaque or having your risk of cancer raised due to cooking processes, the food itself, heat, microbes, or any other factors such as chemicals, antibiotics in any given meat, or retroviruses in the meat or GMO changes in the animal feed that needs to be researched as to whether it affects anyone eating the animal, or even prion research on meat consumption. It's a wide area of study. See the article, "High-protein diet could be as dangerous as smoking - study."

The review discusses recent studies on associations between red and processed meat intake and cancer risk 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. See the article, "Good Fats and Bad Fats | CaloriesPerHour.com."

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.

Can certain foods working with the bacteria that live in the gut help protect your body?

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. You may wish to check out the article, "Seven Best and Seven Worst Foods for Health and Longevity." For example, cheese and butter typically contain over ten times as much saturated fat as fish and white meat chicken and turkey.

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 meat healthier in general need to continue, according to the March 6, 2014 news release, "Eating red and processed meat -- what do scientists say."

The paper is published open access in Meat Science, is the result of an international workshop held in Oslo, Norway in November 2013, “How can we approach consensus on the healthiness of red meat?”. The international team of researchers was coordinated by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, in connection with the international research program ‘The Ecology of Food Perception’ at the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo. The paper is available for free on ScienceDirect.