'No evidence' for meat link to cancer

'No evidence' for meat link to cancer

This is very contemporary and relevant as a health issue, and that we don’t yet have the complete picture – so watch this space.

Actually, this one may have the most common sense, as its author recognises that “nutritional science was in its infancy”. He also, quite rightly, points out that “everything you eat is correlated with everything else you do”.

This latter comment is significant: It could be seen as a minefield or the present position is the tip of a very big iceberg. This is because the “everything else you do” part can relate not just to physical factors, but also to mental, emotional, social, occupational and spiritual – to name but a few!

In general, our concern is that modern scientific studies do not have this broader and more holistic element, so if they do not find what they are looking for, then the study is not relevant. Rather like political commissions, the ‘terms of reference’ may be too narrow and not embrace the full picture.

Source: The Australian

WARNINGS that eating meat could be as dangerous as smoking are overblown because the evidence on the link between food and cancer is inconclusive, according to Tim Key of the University of Oxford’s cancer epidemiology unit.

Professor Key said it was difficult to isolate the connection between different types of food and serious illnesses because “everything you eat is correlated with everything else you do”.

He said nutritional science was in its infancy and scientists did not yet have the evidence to back up many of the bold claims made about eating meat, sugar and carbohydrates.

He is running a study on vegetarians, which involves up to 70,000 British people to find out more. By contrast, a widely reported study which found a diet rich in animal protein led to a fourfold increase in the risk of death from cancer or diabetes surveyed only 6381 people.

Professor Key said the vegetarians in his study, who ate less animal protein and saturated fat, had the same rates of early death as meat-eaters.

He also found there was no difference in the rates of bowel cancer between the two groups, in contrast to claims that red meat is linked to the disease.

“I think we have to conclude we don’t understand what goes on in the mechanism of bowel cancer,” he said. “In relation to cancer and diet, the only two things that are unequivocal are obesity and alcohol, both cause cancer.

“There are loads and loads of studies and they are completely consistent. Once you get on to other things – meat, bacon, fibre – the data is just not clear.”

Professor Key also addressed food regimes such as the Atkins, Dukan and Paleo diets that advocate cutting carbohydrates in favour of protein to lose weight.

Pointing to the fact that vegetarians eat less protein and are thinner than meat-eaters, he said “that is not compatible with the arguments that lower-protein diets make you fat”.

There is evidence that meat-eating is bad for the heart, with vegetarians showing a reduced risk of heart disease, but the evidence is less clear for other diseases.

Professor Key said there were areas in rural China and Japan where the population ate little meat and yet the stroke rate was surprisingly high.