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‘No Need’ to Slash Red Meat Intake ‘Controversial’ Research Finds
Man diet red meat health

After years of warnings, there is no need to cut down red meat intake, according to a major study led by researchers at McMaster and Dalhousie universities.

According to a statement, a panel of international scientists systematically reviewed the evidence and have recommended that most adults should continue to eat their current levels of red meat.

The researchers performed four systematic reviews focused on randomized controlled trials and observational studies looking at the impact of red meat and processed meat consumption on cardiometabolic and cancer outcomes.

In one review of 12 trials with 54,000 people, the researchers did not find statistically significant or an important association between meat consumption and the risk of heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

In three systematic reviews of cohort studies following millions of people, a very small reduction in risk among those who had three fewer servings of red or processed meat a week, but the association was uncertain.

The authors also did a fifth systematic review looking at people’s attitudes and health-related values around eating red and processed meats.

They found people eat meat because they see it as healthy, they like the taste and they are reluctant to change their diet.

McMaster professor Gordon Guyatt, chair of the guideline committee, said the research group with a panel of 14 members from seven countries used a rigorous systematic review methodology, and GRADE methods which rate the certainty of evidence for each outcome, to move from evidence to dietary recommendations to develop their guidelines.

“There is a worldwide interest in nutrition and the issue of red meat in particular. People need to be able to make decisions about their own diet based on the best information available,” he said.

Bradley Johnston, corresponding author on the reviews and guideline, said: “This is not just another study on red and processed meat, but a series of high-quality systematic reviews resulting in recommendations we think are far more transparent, robust and reliable.”

There were no primary external funding sources for the study.

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