Agency, 3 October : New research that claims red and processed meat is probably not harmful to our health has caused controversy among experts who maintain people should cut down.
The World Health Organization has classified red and processed meats as cancer-causing. Public health bodies worldwide urge people to limit their intake of red and processed meat to reduce their cancer risk. The NHS advises that people who eat 90g of meat a day – equivalent to three thin slices of roast meat – should cut down to 70g.
Aside from public health, calls are multiplying for people to cut back on meat consumption because of the climate emergency and the greenhouse gas emissions that come from animal farming.
But the 14-member international team led by Bradley Johnston an associate professor of community health at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, concluded that those who like meat should not stop on health grounds. “Based on the research, we cannot say with any certainty that eating red or processed meat causes cancer, diabetes or heart disease,” he said.
Many scientists agreed with the team that the evidence from studies around the world was generally poor. Some said that left them open to both interpretations – either that meat could cause health harm or that it did not.
Others said Johnston and colleagues were wrong to exclude environmental concerns about damage to the planet from clearing forests and animal farming from their work.
The lead author of the EAT-Lancet Commission, which in January advocated a plant-based diet for both environmental sustainability and health, excoriated the new work.
10 months ago