A 2007 review of previous studies (that is, a study of studies) conducted by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research claimed that a pattern of research showed a link between red meat consumption and colorectal cancer. The review recommended that people limit their intake of red and processed meats. Slam dunk, right? Not so fast. A nonprofit research organization confirms that the review omitted a major study on meat consumption and cancer. And this week, the review’s own author is admitting that it doesn’t have much meat on its bones:
The epidemiological study that came out two years ago and declared that there was "convincing" evidence to link consuming red meat with cancer — specifically colorectal cancer — was flawed, and now, the author of the report has admitted it and has promised to write a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture saying so.
Just what kind of serious flaws did the review have? Omitting a number of important studies. Overestimating the risk between eating red meat and cancer by a factor of seven. Employing criteria that were “inconsistent” with “established scientific guidelines.” Serious flaws, indeed. The full comments by the review’s leaders are available here.
Will these newest revelations stop phony “health” groups like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine or its “Cancer Project” spinoff from making shaky claims about meat and cancer, or suing hot dog makers? Probably not. But you can chow down on your cheeseburger without worrying about any activist-driven “science.” Actually, you always could.