Health news that’s bound to get bacon lovers’ attention is also stirring controversy in the medical community.
After years of warnings about the potential harms of red meat and processed meat, including links to cancer and heart disease, a panel of experts from seven countries on Monday said people don’t need to cut down on their current consumption of products like ham, sausage, luncheon meat and bacon.
The recommendations, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, were made by nutriRECS, a consortium of experts that describes its mission as producing trustworthy nutritional guidelines “based on the values, attitudes and preferences of patients.”
The new guidelines come after reviews of previous research on how eating red meat and processed meat affected the risk of disease. Canadian, Spanish and Polish researchers said they found anywhere from no, to a very small, to a small association between meat consumption and the risk of heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
People in North America and Western Europe eat two to four servings of red and processed meat per week on average, the authors noted. They suggested adults could continue to eat at their current levels, unless they felt compelled to make a change.
In response, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission on Monday to “correct false statements” contained in the report, calling it “a major disservice to public health.”
A headline that suggested people who eat abundant amounts of meat will enjoy good health and need not change their habits was inaccurate, the group of 12,000 physicians noted.
A more precise summary of the research would be: “Modest reductions in meat intake yield uncertain benefits,” wrote Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, in a letter to the editor in chief of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The letter was signed by members of several respected medical societies, including the Harvard School of Public Health.