Meat industry denies cancer risk | Viva!

Ruxton, you are spoiling us with your advice!

Ruxton, you are spoiling us with your advice!

The UK meat industry has just announced it is joining forces to spend £2 million targeting young consumers in a bid to promote beef, lamb and pork in the hope of saving a dying market.

Core to this, they say, will be advice from the Meat Advisory Panel (MAP), a group of doctors, surgeons and nutritionists who provide independent, objective information about red meat and its role as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Tell us another one! These ‘experts’ reject the established links between red and processed meat and cancer as described by the World Health Organisation and the World Cancer Research Fund, among others.

Processed meat causes cancer and red meat probably does too – World Health Organisation

 “…eating processed meats or having a diet high in red meat is a cause of bowel cancer” – World Cancer Research Fund

MAP insist that avoiding red and processed meat is not a protective strategy for reducing your risk of cancer. MAP members Professor Robert Pickard, Emeritus Professor of Neurobiology, Cardiff University, says: “Red and processed meats do not give you cancer”, and Mr Roger Leicester, consultant surgeon says: “There is no known evidence to suggest that red meat, by itself, causes cancer”. Another panel member, former Scottish Tory candidate, freelance dietician and media pundit Dr Carrie Ruxton says: “There’s no evidence that fresh red meat is a direct cause of cancer”. The meat-risk deniers! I can’t help wondering if they think the world is flat too.

Ruxton has also questioned the links between sugar and obesity and expressed doubts over the introduction of a sugar tax. In a review of studies on sugar and health, funded by her previous employer the Sugar Bureau, Ruxton said: “Results from high quality obesity studies did not suggest a positive association between body mass index and sugar intake".

Ruxton now sits on the board of the Scottish government’s public health food regulator Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and faced criticism last year after admitting receiving money from chocolate manufacturer Ferrero – who produce Ferrero Rocher, Nutella and Kinder chocolate. Professor Simon Capewell, from the University of Liverpool’s Department of Public Health and Policy, said this raised questions about a conflict of interests and that the public have every right to be concerned by the revelations.

Joanna Blythman, food journalist and author, said: “It is simply unacceptable that someone who has co-authored a review of scientific data, funded by the sugar industry, one that unsuccessfully attempted to downplay the very real damage that sugar does to public health, should be accepted as a board member at FSS, the public body charged with dispensing nutrition advice to the public”.

Capewell wrote in the British Medical Journal: “Industry funded research is significantly more likely to produce outcomes favourable to that industry (rates vary from about five to 88 times). Sometimes researchers are willing to fabricate data or allow corporate lawyers to hide unfavourable studies. But even well-meaning scientists are (often subconsciously) biased, even by small gifts”. In other words, studies funded by industry are up to 88 times more likely to favour the product that industry produces – no kidding Sherlock! – when did a meat industry funded study ever find that meat was harmful?

Take the study commissioned by the Meat and Livestock Commission, that expressed concern about iron intakes in relation to falling meat intake. The authors both ran independent nutrition consultancies that had worked the Meat and Livestock Commission. Then there was the Kenyan dietary study funded by the US Cattlemen's Association that concluded that all children should eat meat. Sadly, these stories make good headlines and the public end up confused and bewildered about what to eat even though the official advice is to cut down on red meat and avoid  processed meat – that means no bacon, ever. 

Expect to hear more from Ruxton et al. about how great red meat is, but remember to take it with a very large pinch of low-salt!

To find out more about the detrimental health effects of red, white and processed meat read our fully-referenced report Meat the Truth.

To read more about the huge health benefits of a vegan diet see The Incredible Vegan Health Report.

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