Cancer bosses go on the offensive

Cancer bosses have dismissed a report by the US meat industry, which it claimed cast doubt on links between meat and cancer, as “more spin than science”.

The World Cancer Research Fund has found itself under repeated attack in recent weeks over its 2007 report, which claimed a “convincing” link between red and processed meat consumption and bowel cancer. However, it has gone on the offensive over a report created by the US-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

It said the 96-page NCBA report did nothing to challenge the WCRF review. Professor Martin Wiseman, director of the WCRF document, said: “The NCBA’s review contains no evidence, new or old, that challenges our Expert Report. They reach a different conclusion, but given who paid for it, that’s hardly surprising.

“There is simply no comparison between the WCRF Expert Report – a systematic, transparent, peer-reviewed project that took five years to complete, involved independent teams of investigators across the globe, and was overseen by an international panel of leading experts on cancer and nutrition – and the NCBA’s technical summary, which was prepared by a small team with little background in nutrition.”

The WCRF said the NCBA report did not describe how its authors conducted their searches of the scientific literature, or detail how they checked their results to ensure that no relevant studies were missed. Neither does the report outline any predefined, objective criteria for judging potential links between meat and cancer, it said. And at no point did the report undergo the process of peer-review, which would have subjected its methods and conclusions to scrutiny from independent experts in the field, it added.

The charity’s attack on the NCBA report follows hot on the heels of stinging criticism from the UK meat industry, which claimed the WCRF report had “significant” flaws. Industry levy bodies Eblex and Bpex pointed to investigations by academics which claimed a number of omissions and errors in the report, and accused WCRF of refusing to publicly acknowledge them.

However, the WCRF hit back, accusing the industry of using “factually incorrect” information to try and discredit its advice over meat consumption.

>>Are we stirring up a can of worms?

>>Cancer row erupts over red meat

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