A number of meat industry experts have challenged the American Institute of Cancer Research’s (AICR) “Second Expert Report” that calls for drastic cuts in consumption of red meat and processed meats for cancer prevention.

“Consumers should continue to feel good about consuming processed meat as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet,” says Ceci Snyder, a registered dietitian and assistant vice president of consumer marketing for the National Pork Board. “Today’s (Oct. 31) report findings on meat and cancer are misleading as the published data do not support the conclusions reached on the subject.”

Maureen Story, PhD, University of Maryland, Center for Food Nutrition and Agriculture Policy, adds: “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.”

Snyder points out that cancer prevention is not as simple as cutting out one food or eating more of another.

“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 oz. from the meat and beans group daily,” notes Snyder.

Storey adds: “This report shows stronger links between obesity and lack of physical activity. This is something consumers have to understand and act on. It is important for everyone to remember to eat a variety of foods in moderation and to get more physical activity.”

The American Meat Institute (AMI) said that the study, released jointly by the AICR and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), reflects WCRF’s well-known anti-meat bias, oversimplifies the complex issue of cancer and is not supported by the data and common sense.

“WCRF’s conclusions are extreme, unfounded and out of step with dietary guidelines,” says AMI Foundation Vice President of Scientific Affairs Randy Huffman. “Given the complexities and conflicting research findings, it is inconceivable that WCRF could draw definitive conclusions and make such precise recommendations about specific food categories.”

The study, “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective,” is available at www.dietandcancerreport.org.

Excess body fat is the clearest finding of cancer risk in the five-year study, linking it to six known cancers.

The 517-page report also suggests that a new assessment of the association between diet and cancer provides more convincing evidence that red meat (beef, pork, lamb) causes colorectal cancer and that red meat consumption should be limited to 18 oz. (cooked) per week.

The study’s scientific panel suggests there is no safe level of processed meats and recommends avoiding consumption of bacon, ham, sausage and lunchmeat.