New reports suggest that eating red and processed meat could increase risk of developing cancer in the gut.These reports have resulted in new nutritional recommendations that advise people to limit their intake of red and processed meats. A recent perspective paper, au-thored by 23 scientists, underlines the uncertainties in the scientific evidence and points to further re-search needed to resolve these is-sues and improve the foundation for future recommendations on the intake of red meat. The review dis-cusses recent studies on associa-tions between red and processed meat intake and cancer risk in humans and animals. In animals it is possible to promote cancer by giving the animals a chemical can-cer challenge and a basic “stand-ard” diet that is high in meat, but doesn’t contain any ingredients that protect and can help the gut stay healthy. This means no veg-etables, no fiber, no milk or other sources of calcium. In other words, the “standard” diet of the lab ani-mals is not very comparable to that of humans.The many differences between diets for humans and laboratory animals may explain why the re-sults seem to differ: in humans, the observed association between red and processed meat intake and cancer is relatively small in magnitude, but consistent, and may still present a seri-ous public health impact. The 23 researchers con-clude that other foods, in cooperation with the bacteria that live in the gut, may protect the gut so any potential adverse effects of meat may become less pronounced or may even be fully prevented. The team of scientists further concludes that science does not yet have a full understanding of how food that we eat affects our gut and our health.
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