Responding to the results of a study published this week and part-funded by Cancer Research UK, Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), said it was important to recognise there is no consistent evidence that red meat, or any one food, causes cancer.
Pointing out that other UK studies have found no statistical differences in mortality rates or bowel cancer risks between meat eaters and vegetarians, he said the report highlights a range of other factors which have an impact on the risk of bowel cancer.
The most significant of these highlighted in the new study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, are age, genetics, lack of dietary fibre, inactivity and high alcohol consumption. Participants with the highest intake of fibre from bread and breakfast cereals had a 14% lower risk of colorectal cancer and the impact of alcohol was also significant and was associated with an 8% higher risk. “What we do know is that red meat contributes significantly to a healthy diet as a source of nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc, vitamin D and B vitamins. “We also know that avoiding red meat can be detrimental to health – for example around 40% of women and teenage girls have iron intakes which are too low,” said Mr Clarke.