Monday, November 2, 2015

Headlines wrongly equate meat risks to smoking

First news reports exaggerate causal links that processed and red meats have to cancers 

Despite "persuasive evidence that eating meat can cause cancer," the risks are "very small for most people," declares an editorial in The New York Times.

The scathing commentary came after a World Health Organization (WHO) adjunct, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, found that processed meats (especially bacon, ham, corned beef, sausages and hot dogs) may be linked to colon and stomach cancers.

The group, according to an earlier Times news article by Anahad O'Connor, the WHO arm had evaluated more than 900 environmental and lifestyle factors that may contribute to cancer — including coffee, sunlight and night-shift work. 

The agency's report, which was published in "The Lancet Oncology" and based on a review of 800 epidemiological studies from various nations with differing diets and ethnicities, also indicated that red meats (beef and pork) may be a probable cause of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers.

Initial news reports that the risks from eating those meats were as high as that of smoking were grossly exaggerated, however.

Dr. John Ioannidis
The Times editorial quoted Dr. John Ioannidis, chair of disease prevention at Stanford, as saying, "I think it's very important that we don't terrorize people into thinking that they should not eat any red meat at all."

Ioannidis, who wasn't involved in the WHO report, may be best known for causing an academic uproar when he published a paper in 2005 titled "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False."

To be fair, the Times news piece also quoted Susan Tapster, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society, as calling "the panel's conclusions 'an important step' in helping people make more healthful dietary choices."

Recent ACS guidelines suggest skipping both processed and red meat and substituting fish, poultry and beans.

Causes of breast and other cancers are discussed at length in the VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

No comments:

Post a Comment