Wrangling Science: Red Meat And Cancer

As a continuation of beef checkoff efforts to examine the totality of the
evidence on the subject of red
meat and cancer, the Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption and Cancer: A
Summary of the Epidemiologic Evidence was released to members of the Human
Nutrition Research
Committee during the Cattle Industry’s Annual Convention this week in San

Cancer is the second leading cause of death (after heart disease) in the United
States; about one in
every three Americans will be diagnosed with some type of caner in their
lifetime. While the specific
cause(s) of most cancer is still unknown, researchers believe it stems from
genetic, lifestyle,
infectious and environmental factors, and usually develops over several years or
even decades. That
reality adds to the difficulty in identifying the underlying factors involved in
carcinogenesis, states
author and leading epidemiologist, Dr. Dominik Alexander, PhD, MSPH. Even with
these challenges,
Alexander goes on to say, no mechanism for red meat has been established as
being responsible
for increasing the risk of cancer in human studies and the totality of
available scientific evidence is
not supportive of an independent association between red meat and processed meat
and cancer.

This technical summary reviews the fundamental basis of the science of
epidemiology (the study of
the occurrence of disease in human populations) and its applicability in
critically evaluating the
associations between red and processed meat and cancer across the published
literature. This
assessment includes a comprehensive evaluation of hundreds of epidemiologic
studies across all
types of cancer.

This will serve as a comprehensive resource on the epidemiologic associations
of red meat and
processed meat and cancer for industry stake holders, nutrition scientists,
educators and
communicators. It concludes the available epidemiologic evidence is not
supportive of a causal
relationship between red meat and any of the cancers evaluated, says Shalene
McNeill, PhD, RD,
executive director of nutrition research with the National Cattlemen’s Beef
Association (NCBA), a beef
checkoff contractor.

The beef and pork checkoffs joined forces to fund the development of this report
which is the first
large-scale review of this topic. The piece was prepared by Health Sciences
Practice, Exponent Inc.,
under the direction of principal investigator Dominik Alexander, PhD, MSPH.

Click here to read an overview.


The Technical Summary will be available for purchase in February at a cost of
$30.00 through the
NCBA Customer Service department. For purchasing information please call

Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board