A robust and causal link between the increased consumption of red and processed meat and bowel cancer has been made by various highly reputable scientific groups around the world and has become widely accepted.

Today a study, led by Bradley Johnston, Professor of Public Health at Dalhousie University in Canada published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, cast doubt on this body of evidence and concluded that the consumption of red and processed meat in fact plays no role in the development of bowel (or other) cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

Not surprisingly, this has caused some uproar within the scientific community, with the lead author of the EAT Lancet Commission, Professor Walter Willet of Havard TH Chan School of Public Health stating

This report has layers of flaws and is the most egregious abuse of evidence that I have ever seen.

Profiled previously on a Bowel & Cancer Research blog, the Eat Lancet Commission delivered a comprehensive and hugely detailed report on the impact of red and processed meat consumption on population health as well as on the planet's resources.

In his view the evidence clearly illustrated that a reduction in the consumption of red and processed meat was similar to that of many drugs used for treating high blood pressure and cholesterol.

The new study was also questioned by the World Cancer Research Fund, which has long campaigned about the risks associated with diet and lifestyle in cancer and the Head of Nutrition Science and Public Health England, Professor Louis Levy, who said of red and processed meat

While it can form part of a health diet, eating too much can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer.

At Bowel & Cancer Research, we would agree with this analysis. We know that up to half of all bowel cancer diagnoses can be attributed to lifestyle factors, including diet, exercise, alcohol consumption and smoking. We continue to encourage individuals to eat within the current guidelines of no more than 70g of red or processed meat daily.

For more information visit our Lifestyle pages.