Monday, 16 November 2015 23:59

Meat & Cancer

A group within the World Health Organisation, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has released its evaluation on red and processed meats and cancer, leading to widespread media attention in Australia.

When it comes to red meat, DAA supports the recommendations of the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG). The Guidelines recommend up to 455g cooked lean red meat per week and also recommend limiting processed meat. To reduce risk of cancer, DAA recommends a healthy diet, including eating plenty of vegetables and legumes/beans, as well as fruit and grain foods (especially wholegrain), achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active.

 

Summary: The IARC evaluation

The IARC evaluation is part of the organisation’s Monograph Program, which identifies and evaluates environmental causes of cancer in humans.

Key findings from the IARC evaluation:

  • Red meat as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2a), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect’. This means that red meat was not established as a cause of cancer, because the IARC Working Group considered the evidence in humans to be limited and they could not exclude confounding from other diet and lifestyle factors (such as overweight/obesity, smoking, alcohol and low intake of vegetables, wholegrains and legumes).
  • Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer. This means consumption of processed meat causes cancer because the majority of the Working Group considered the evidence sufficiently consistent to conclude that any other explanation for increased risk associated with processed meat was unlikely. Importantly, IARC notes that the risk is small and related to portion size and does not carry the same risk as other substances in Group 1 such as tobacco or sunshine.   
  • The Working Group were not able to reach a conclusion about a safe level of meat consumption and considers it the role of each country to set their own red meat recommendations based on a careful evaluation of the risks and benefits of red meat for their specific populations.

 

Australian Dietary Guidelines: Evidence-based recommendationsmeat.jpg

When it comes to red meat, DAA supports the recommendations of the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG). The Guidelines recommend up to 455g cooked lean red meat per week (which is equivalent to one serve (65g) per day, or two serves (130g) every second day). They also recommend limiting processed meat (such as ham and bacon) to reduce some of the health risks associated with eating these foods.

Lean red meat has a valuable place in the Australian diet, providing an important source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. However, regular consumption of greater than 100-120g/day of cooked red meat has been linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.  So it’s a bit like sunlight – a little bit is good for you, but don’t overdo it: 455g per week of cooked lean red meat represents the ideal amount for Australian adults.

To get all of the nutritional benefits from meat and to help you stay healthy, DAA recommends:

  • Limit your weekly intake of lean red meat to a maximum of 455g
  • Choose lean cuts of meat and trim off the visible fat
  • Limit your intake of processed meats*
  • Try to avoid burning or charring meat, and if barbequing, using a marinade can help.

And for people confused about any part of their diet, DAA recommends seeking advice and support from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD).

(*Note: In the ADG ham, bacon, sausages and deli or luncheon meats are not recommended, however, lean, lower-salt sausages may be included as part of the 455g/week recommendation).

 

Diet, lifestyle and cancer

Evidence shows that being overweight, having a poor diet, drinking alcohol and doing little or no exercise all increase your risk of developing some types of cancer, such as oesophagus, stomach and bowel.

To reduce cancer risk, DAA recommends:

  • Eating plenty of vegetables and legumes/beans, as well as fruit and grain foods (especially wholegrain)
  • Being a healthy weight – which includes balancing the amount of energy (kilojoules) you take in with the amount of energy you expend each day
  • Being physically active
  • Limiting alcohol consumption (if you choose to drink)
  • Limiting intake of processed meats.

To effectively reduce cancer risk, these lifestyle factors should be targeted in combination.

 

A group within the World Health Organisation, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has released its evaluation on red and processed meats and cancer, leading to widespread media attention in Australia.

When it comes to red meat, DAA supports the recommendations of the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG). The Guidelines recommend up to 455g cooked lean red meat per week and also recommend limiting processed meat. To reduce risk of cancer, DAA recommends a healthy diet, including eating plenty of vegetables and legumes/beans, as well as fruit and grain foods (especially wholegrain), achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active.

Summary: The IARC evaluation

The IARC evaluation is part of the organisation’s Monograph Program, which identifies and evaluates environmental causes of cancer in humans.

Key findings from the IARC evaluation:

  • Red meat as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2a), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect’. This means that red meat was not established as a cause of cancer, because the IARC Working Group considered the evidence in humans to be limited and they could not exclude confounding from other diet and lifestyle factors (such as overweight/obesity, smoking, alcohol and low intake of vegetables, wholegrains and legumes).
  • Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer. This means consumption of processed meat causes cancer because the majority of the Working Group considered the evidence sufficiently consistent to conclude that any other explanation for increased risk associated with processed meat was unlikely. Importantly, IARC notes that the risk is small and related to portion size and does not carry the same risk as other substances in Group 1 such as tobacco or sunshine.   
  • The Working Group were not able to reach a conclusion about a safe level of meat consumption and considers it the role of each country to set their own red meat recommendations based on a careful evaluation of the risks and benefits of red meat for their specific populations.

Australian Dietary Guidelines: Evidence-based recommendations

When it comes to red meat, DAA supports the recommendations of the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG). The Guidelines recommend up to 455g cooked lean red meat per week (which is equivalent to one serve (65g) per day, or two serves (130g) every second day). They also recommend limiting processed meat (such as ham and bacon) to reduce some of the health risks associated with eating these foods.

Lean red meat has a valuable place in the Australian diet, providing an important source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. However, regular consumption of greater than 100-120g/day of cooked red meat has been linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.  So it’s a bit like sunlight – a little bit is good for you, but don’t overdo it: 455g per week of cooked lean red meat represents the ideal amount for Australian adults.

To get all of the nutritional benefits from meat and to help you stay healthy, DAA recommends:

  • Limit your weekly intake of lean red meat to a maximum of 455g
  • Choose lean cuts of meat and trim off the visible fat
  • Limit your intake of processed meats*
  • Try to avoid burning or charring meat, and if barbequing, using a marinade can help.

And for people confused about any part of their diet, DAA recommends seeking advice and support from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD).

(*Note: In the ADG ham, bacon, sausages and deli or luncheon meats are not recommended, however, lean, lower-salt sausages may be included as part of the 455g/week recommendation).

Diet, lifestyle and cancer

Evidence shows that being overweight, having a poor diet, drinking alcohol and doing little or no exercise all increase your risk of developing some types of cancer, such as oesophagus, stomach and bowel.

To reduce cancer risk, DAA recommends:

  • Eating plenty of vegetables and legumes/beans, as well as fruit and grain foods (especially wholegrain)
  • Being a healthy weight – which includes balancing the amount of energy (kilojoules) you take in with the amount of energy you expend each day
  • Being physically active
  • Limiting alcohol consumption (if you choose to drink)
  • Limiting intake of processed meats.

To effectively reduce cancer risk, these lifestyle factors should be targeted in combination.