HCC Statement in response to IARC report

The report released today (26 October) by the IARC does not state that eating red meat causes cancer.

Red meat contains a number of important nutrients that can play a part in a healthy balanced diet and this is recognised in the report.  

HCC Chief Executive, Gwyn Howells said: “The IARC’s findings are not based on any new evidence from any new research.

“The Government looked at the same evidence in 2010 and recommended people eat no more than 70g of red and processed meat a day, which is what the vast majority of us are eating. These guidelines have not changed and HCC’s advice is that lean red meat can be enjoyed when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet.”

The findings of the report suggest that eating 50g per day of processed meat brings a small increase in risk. However average consumption in the UK is just 17g per day so people would have to eat three times their current level to increase their risk. 

Professor Rob Pickard of University of Cardiff, and a member of the Meat Advisory Panel said: “No one food gives you cancer. The top priorities for cancer prevention remain smoking cessation, maintenance of normal body weight and avoidance of high alcohol intakes.”

Red meat is a natural source of many important nutrients that play a vital role in our diet. These include protein, which is essential for growth and repair; iron, for the formation of red blood cells; zinc, which helps maintain a healthy immune system; and B vitamins including B12 which helps with the production of blood cells and healthy nerves.

Mr Howells added: “There is no evidence that removing meat from your diet protects against cancer.”

A long term study by Oxford University has shown no difference in colorectal cancer rates between meat eaters and vegetarians.