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WCRF Report Emphasizes Obesity, Recommends Moderating Consumption of Red Meat and Avoiding Processed Meat

Monday, May 28, 2018

(North American Meat Institute)

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) last week released its Third Expert Report : Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective , a 10-year review of research on lifestyle habits and cancer risk, which often targets red and processed meat consumption as a primary risk factor. The new report once again recommends individuals moderate their consumption of red meat and eat little, if any, processed meat. The report, however, underscores the importance of overall dietary patterns, stating, "it appears increasingly unlikely that specific foods, nutrients or other components of foods are themselves important singular factors in causing or protecting against cancer." The growing recognition of the role obesity and weight gain plays in cancer was a dominant theme in both the report and in the ensuing media coverage.

Although the report details some of the benefits associated with meat consumption - namely meat's contribution to adequate iron intake - it nonetheless recommends red meat consumption exceed no more than three portions - about 12 to 18 ounces - per week. WCRF, in the report, also cites evidence linking the consumption of red and processed meat with colorectal cancer, and concludes the data on processed meat show that no level of intake can confidently be associated with a lack of colorectal cancer risk.

In addition to consuming a diet rich in whole grains, beans and non-starchy fruits and vegetables and maintaining a healthy body weight, WCRF recommends individuals stay physically active; limit intake of "fast" and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars; and avoid alcohol consumption.

Media coverage generated by the report has been light and has largely focused on WCRF's findings regarding obesity and alcohol consumption. The Meat Institute continues to monitor coverage actively and will respond as appropriate.

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