Washington, 1 Oct 2019 (AFP) – Reducing red meat consumption is standard medical advice for preventing cancer and heart disease, but a review of dozens of studies found the potential risk is low, and the evidence is still uncertain.
According to the new guidelines published in the medical journal "Annals of Internal Medicine", a panel of researchers from seven countries suggested that adults "continue current red meat consumption."
The board, which immediately sparked a strong backlash from other experts, added that adults should also "continue current consumption of processed meat."
Published in the journal edited by the American College of Physicians, the research looked at several studies that, as a whole, showed that reducing red meat consumption to three servings a week could reduce cancer mortality by seven deaths per 1,000 people.
The researchers said the reduction was modest and that they found only a "low" degree of certainty about the statistics.
They added that the quality of the evidence linking meat with cardiovascular disease and diabetes was "very low."
"There are very small risk reductions in cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and the evidence is uncertain," Bradley Johnston, professor of epidemiology at Dalhousie University in Canada and director of the NutriRECS group, who drafted the guidelines, told AFP.
"People need to make their own decisions. We are giving the best estimate of the truth," he emphasized.
– Menu Review – Researchers say they want to change the "old school" approach of giving general nutritional recommendations and focusing more on evidence of individual benefits.
"People should look at this and, hopefully, make informed personal decisions, instead of listening to authorized organizations say what to do," said Johnston.
Eating less red and processed meat has been a pillar of food orientation for decades in many countries as well as in major health groups.
The World Health Organization's International Cancer Research Center ensures that processed meat is carcinogenic, while red meat is "probably carcinogenic."
In response to the latest guidelines, the Center said it will not change its advice.
"We maintain our confidence in the rigorous research conducted over 30 years," said Research Director Giota Mitrou.
Marji McCullough, epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, said the researchers took into account people's individual values and preferences.
"It's like saying, 'We know that helmets save lives, but some people prefer to feel the wind in their hair when they ride a bike. And, let's face it, most people won't hit their heads," he said.
"But everyone agrees that the helmet should be worn," he added.
And Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics at the Open University of the United Kingdom, said that the lack of solid scientific evidence just means that there are few clear answers.
ico / bgs / mtp / mps / lda / cn / tt