A recent perspective paper, authored by 23 scientists, underlines the uncertainties in the scientific evidence and points to further research needed to resolve these issues and improve the foundation for future recommendations on the intake of red meat.
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. 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.
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.
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.
The findings are published in the journal Meat Science.