Eating less meat can cut risk of cancer, major study finds

Most cancer is preventable and eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables could reduce cases of the disease by as much as 40% a year, medical experts said recently.
"Dietary imbalance is a cause of cancer," Dr. Tony McMichael of the University of London told a news conference to launch a major report by the World Cancer Research Fund on nutrition and cancer.
"We are running the human biological engine on the wrong type of food," he added.
People should change to a more plant-based diet, and meat &endash; if eaten at all &endash; should be limited to less than 85 grams or one portion a day, said the study, the most comprehensive on diet and cancer ever undertaken.
"Meat, at most, should be considered as a garnish...not the central part of the diet," said John Potter, director of the Cancer Prevention Research Program in Seattle, Washington.
He said the experts who compiled the report were convinced by several studies that the link between a meat-rich diet and the risk of bowel cancer was strong enough to justify recommending limits on meat consumption.
The report supported the findings of a British government study, also released at the same time, that suggested people should eat less meat to avoid bowel cancer.
Medical experts have long suspected links between high intake of animal fat and meat and development of cancer, but the authoritative research fund report is the first to examine food and cancer prevention from a global perspective.
"At least 20% of lung cancer, 33% of breast cancers and 66% of colon cancers are preventable by appropriate diets, together with the associated factors of regular physical activity and maintenance of healthy body weight.
"Together with no smoking, this means that 60-70% of cancers are preventable," the report said.
Every year as many as 10 million new cancer cases are diagnosed and 7 million people die from the disease. Unless action is taken, experts estimate the number of new cases and deaths will rise to 14 million by the year 2020.
Fifteen scientists from nine countries worked on the report for three years. They assessed more than 4,000 studies on diet and cancer.
Reuter, 26 Sep 1997