Institute Says Alarmist Messages Reflect Group's Anti-Meat Bias, Stand in Sharp Contrast to U.S. Dietary Guidelines and Plain Common Sense
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Meat Institute (AMI) today said that World Cancer Research Fund's (WCRF) recommendations to limit red and processed meat intake to extremely low levels reflect WCRF's well-known anti-meat bias and should be met with skepticism because they oversimplify the complex issue of cancer, are not supported by the data and defy common sense.
"WCRF's conclusions are extreme, unfounded and out of step with dietary guidelines," said AMI Foundation Vice President of Scientific Affairs Randy Huffman, Ph.D. "Headlines associated with this report may give consumers another case of nutrition whiplash. The consistent finding in diet and cancer research is inconsistency," he added. "No health groups should be dispensing clear-cut recommendations on specific foods when studies continue to contradict each other time after time." Huffman stressed that the recommendations stand in sharp contrast to mainstream advice in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
The causes of cancer are extremely complex and involve factors like genetics, the environment, lifestyle and a host of other issues, Huffman noted. "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," he said.
Harvard Data Showing No Relationship Between Meat and Colon Cancer Not Considered
Huffman expressed strong concern that all relevant research was not considered by the WCRF panel. In particular, he noted that the largest study ever done on red meat and colon cancer -- a 2004 Harvard School of Public Health analysis involving 725,000 men and women and presented at the 2004 American Association for Cancer Research Conference -- showed no relationship between the two.
The paper, "Meat and fat intake and colorectal cancer risk: A pooled analysis of 14 prospective studies" was presented in abstract form, but never appears in its complete form in the published literature three years after it was presented. As a result, these data were not factored into WCRF's 2007 report.
"This study uses what is considered perhaps the most reliable approach to analyzing relationships: pooling original data together and analyzing it," Huffman said. "Given the study's size, approach and very important finding, we'd like to know why it hasn't published. WCRF and consumers deserve access to this federally funded data, which shows that red meat and processed meat were not associated with colon cancer." Media reports indicate that lawmakers are now asking Harvard why the study has not published given its completion three years ago, given its federal funding and given the significant impact it may have had on WCRF's conclusions.
"When this Harvard data showing no relationship between red meat and cancer is coupled with studies that found no association or only weak associations between red meat and cancer, we must absolutely dispute WCRF's conclusions," Huffman added.
Processed Meats Are Safe
Huffman also disputed the report's extreme recommendations on processed meats. Huffman pointed out that "our own systematic review of the literature by independent epidemiologists has documented that 15 of 16 comparisons regarding processed meat and colorectal cancer were not statistically significant. The literature simply does not support the recommendations of the WCRF report," he said.
"Processed meats that contain nitrite are safe and sodium nitrite is an essential ingredient whose safety is without question," Huffman said. "The National Toxicology Prog