People should continue to enjoy steak, sausages and bacon, experts say, as they claim there is no evidence red and processed meat cause cancer.
In a controversial move, a team of researchers branded evidence linking red meat to serious health problems as weak, saying people should continue as they are – enjoying an average of three to four servings of red and processed meat a week.
Their new guidelines are flying ahead of recommendations from health organizations, including the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which told people to avoid processed meat together or eat very little of it, while limiting red meat to about three servings per week.
The WCRF has assembled a team of organizations – including the World Health Organization – to pull out of the latest findings, saying there is good evidence of a link between red and processed meat and colon cancer.
Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services (DCS) recommends that anyone who eats more than 90 g of red or processed meat a day should try to reduce it to 70 g or less.
In 2015, the World Health Organization's International Cancer Research Agency said red meat consumption was "probably carcinogenic" for humans, while processed meat was considered "carcinogenic".
And the WCRF said that people should avoid fully processed meat or consume very little of it, while gluing three or fewer servings of red meat per week.
But in a new study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a team of international experts said those claims were based on very low quality evidence.
They came to the same conclusion about the risks of eating red and processed meat as other researchers, but said the findings were so weak because it did not allow people to be told to cut.
The team – which included 14 experts from seven countries – said their analysis offers "up-to-date evidence on the subject".
The study's author Bradley Johnston, an associate professor at Dalhousie University in Canada, said: "Based on the research, we cannot say for sure that eating red or processed meat causes cancer, diabetes or heart disease."
The team's conclusion – that most adults should continue to eat regular intake of red and processed meat (about three to four times a week) – contradicts almost all other guidelines that exist.
Mr Stononston said the team found no real benefit from lowering this level.
He said: "Of the 12 randomized controlled trials involving some 54,000 people, we found no statistically significant association at risk of heart disease, cancer or diabetes for those who consumed less red or processed meat."
Although there was some evidence of a slight risk reduction for those who spend three fewer portions a week, "the reliability of the evidence is low to very low," he added.
"Our final recommendation – which is a weak recommendation based on low quality evidence – is that for most people, and not for all, continuing their consumption of red and processed meat is the right approach."
Dr Otota Mitro, director of research at the WCRF, said the new interpretation of the study "could put people at risk by suggesting they can eat as much red and processed meat as they want, without increasing the risk of cancer." .
"However, this is not the case.
"The message that people should hear is that we should eat no more than three servings of red meat a week and avoid processed processed meat.
"We have been doing our rigorous research for the last 30 years and urge the public to follow current recommendations for red and processed meat."
In a further statement, the WCRF, the American Cancer Research Institute (AICR), the American Society for Preventive Oncology, the UK Cancer Cancer and the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) urged people to abide by it. limit your intake of red meat to three servings per week and eat a little, if any, processed meat.
They said they disagreed with the latest interpretation of scientific evidence.
Dr Nigel Brockton, vice president of research at AICR, said: "We are consistent with the rigor of our research methodology and our recommendation for cancer prevention to limit red meat intake to less than 12 to 18oz per week and to avoid processed meat.
"The baseline results published by the NutriRECS group are actually in line with this advice.
"However, their interpretation of the strength of these findings differs from the conclusions reached by the expert panel on continuous updating of the WCRF / AICR.
"Eating processed meat regularly and eating more red meat increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
"Proposing that there is no need to restrict these foods will put people at risk for colorectal cancer and further undermine public confidence in dietary advice."
Tim Kiv, professor of epidemiology and deputy director of the Oxford University's Epidemiology Cancer Unit, said: "There is substantial evidence that processed meat can cause colon cancer – so much so that the World Health Organization has classified it as 2015 carcinogenic. year.
"Today the results of new publication reports are substantially identical to the existing evidence, but describe the impact very differently, as opposed to the general consensus among cancer research experts.
"The authors here have found the same evidence of the effect, but find it so modest that it is not worth recommending that we do something about it."
Dr David Nunan, senior researcher at the Evidence-based Medicine Center, University of Oxford, said the experienced team of researchers "probably did a good job and the findings and verdicts are likely to be robust and reliable."
He added: "As far as I can see, for most important outcomes (death, cancer rate, heart disease), people who choose to eat less meat and those who are told to eat less meat or get less meat for eating, they have little benefit, but this benefit may not be significant enough to affect the population level of these outcomes. "
But Dr Marco Springman, senior researcher for environmental and public health at Oxford University, said: "The recommendation for adults to continue their current consumption of red and processed meat is based on a distorted reading and presentation of scientific evidence. “.
In April, a separate study led by Oxford University and funded by Cancer Research UK found that even small amounts of red and processed meat – such as bacon spread daily – could increase the risk of colon cancer.
They estimated that eating three bacon raisins a day, rather than just one, could increase the risk of colon cancer by 20%.
Of every 10,000 people in the study who ate 21 g per day of red and processed meat (about a slice of bacon or slice of ham), 40 were diagnosed with colon cancer.
The comparable figure for those who ate 76g a day (about half a steak) was 48.
Cancer Research UK has said about 5,400 of the 41,804 cases of colon cancer seen in the UK each year can be prevented if people do not eat processed meat at all.
Emma Shields, health information manager in the UK, said: "Processed meat increases the risk of colon cancer – there is a lot of evidence to support this."