North American Meat Institute Says IARC Meat Vote Is Dramatic and Alarmist Overreach

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Cancer Is Complex and a Balanced Diet is Key to Staying Healthy

IARC’s decision simply cannot be applied to people’s health because it considers just one piece of the health puzzle: theoretical hazards. Risks and benefits must be considered together before telling people what to eat, drink, drive or breathe.

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) said a vote by an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monograph panel classifying red and processed meat as cancer “hazards” defies both common sense and numerous studies showing no correlation between meat and cancer and many more studies showing the many health benefits of balanced diets that include meat. Scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health.

“It was clear sitting in the IARC meeting that the panelists were relying on old, weak, inconsistent, self-reported intake data to reach their outcome, said Betsy Booren, Ph.D., NAMI Vice President of Scientific Affairs.

“Red and processed meat are among 940 agents reviewed by IARC and found to pose some level of theoretical ‘hazard.’ Only one substance, a chemical in yoga pants, has been declared by IARC not to cause cancer,” said Dr. Booren.

IARC says you can enjoy your yoga class, but don’t breathe air (Class I carcinogen), sit near a sun-filled window (Class I), apply aloe vera (Class 2B) if you get a sunburn, drink wine or coffee (Class I and Class 2B), or eat grilled food (Class 2A).And if you are a hairdresser or do shiftwork (both Class 2A), you should seek a new career," added Dr. Booren.

NAMI noted that IARC’s panel was given the basic task of looking at hazards that meat could pose at some level, under some circumstance, but was not asked to consider any off-setting benefits, like the nutrition that meat delivers or the implications of drastically reducing or removing meat from the diet altogether.

“Followers of the Mediterranean diet eat double the recommended amount of processed meats. People in countries where the Mediterranean diet is followed, like Spain, Italy and France, have some of the longest lifespans in the world and excellent health,” said Dr. Booren.

“IARC’s decision simply cannot be applied to people’s health because it considers just one piece of the health puzzle: theoretical hazards. Risks and benefits must be considered together before telling people what to eat, drink, drive, breathe, or where to work,” she said.

For more facts about the nutrition benefits of red and processed meat as well as a catalog of studies on meat and cancer please visit http://www.meatpoultrynutrition.org.

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Eric Mittenthal
@MeatInstitute
since: 04/2009
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