WHO "research" showing bacon and red meat cause cancer ‘a farce’, says Australia’s Agriculture Minister (Rightly)
Barnaby makes some reasonable comments but much more could be said. This is an old scare and in my years as a health blogger I followed each research finding on the question as it came out. Every single study was flaky, mostly being the usual stupid epidemiological nonsense that flew in the face of the basic statistical dictum, "Correlation is not causation". Even obvious confounds such as social class were not allowed for, and would mostly account for the findings.
And the report below simply takes all that at face value. Utter rubbish.
To make it worse the study is a meta-analysis. And you can't critique those in detail unless you go back over every single thing they did. And sometimes you need to. I know of several meta-analyses which were blatantly crooked -- excluding from consideration findings that did not suit the authors' preconceptions, for instance.
And the WHO IS crooked. It can be bought. And some environmental organizations have a lot of money. I will say no more on that.
Meta-analyses can have merit. The Cochrane studies are a case in point. But the Cochrane analyses systematically exclude all dubious findings -- often ending up with a very small number of studies being considered as having value. The study below analysed over 800 studies, making it clear that Cochrane rigor was not applied to the input of the study. The study can be summarized by an old computer dictum: "Garbage in; Garbage out"
BACON lovers all over the world are reeling from the news that too much processed meat can increase the risk of cancer. But none will be more surprised by the appetite-killing research than the world’s oldest woman, who credits her longevity on a daily helping of bacon.
116-year-old American Susannah Mushatt Jones, the official Guiness World Record holder, even had bacon on her 116th birthday cake, along with chicken drumsticks — her other favourite food.
The healthy centenarian is a living contradiction to an evaluation of more than 800 studies from several continents linking meat and cancer, that saw the WHO classify processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” — in the same category as cigarettes — and red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Australia’s Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce, who is clearly Team Susannah when it comes to meat consumption, has labelled the link “a farce”.
The outspoken Nationals MP told ABC radio the report was being blown out of proportion. “I don’t think we should get too exited that if you have a sausage you’re going to die of bowel cancer. You’re not,” he said. “What obviously is part of this is that you should have a balanced diet.”
Mr Joyce knocked back claims that some Australians were consuming a dangerous quantity of processed or red meat. “A lot of people don’t have bacon every day. If you got everything the WHO says is carcinogenic and took it out of your diet, well you're heading back to a cave,” he said.
“If you were going to avoid everything that has any correlation with cancer then don’t walk outside, don’t walk the streets in Sydney. There’s going to be very little in life that you actually do in the end.”
The agricultural minister also argued encouragement of a vegetarian only diet would “completely change” the agriculture industry.
Meat industry groups have also protested the classification, arguing that cancer is not caused by specific foods but by several factors, Associated Press reports.
The WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer findings stated just 50 grams a day — the equivalent of around one sausage or two slices of ham — can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.
Health experts have also weighed in, warning meat eaters not to go overboard heeding warnings.
“This decision doesn’t mean you need to stop eating any red and processed meat,” said Tim Key, an epidemiologist at Cancer Research UK. “But if you eat lots of it, you may want to think about cutting down.
“You could try having fish for your dinner rather than sausages, or choosing to have a bean salad for lunch over a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich).” Nutritionist Elizabeth Lund from Norfolk in England said obesity and lack of exercise were a far bigger cancer risks.
“Overall, I feel that eating meat once a day combined with plenty of fruit, vegetable and cereal fibre plus exercise and weight control, will allow for a low risk of CRC,” she said, referring to colorectal cancer.
“It should also be noted that some studies have shown that if meat is consumed with vegetables or a high-fibre diet, the risk of CRC is reduced.”