For First Time, Committee Urges Limiting Meat, Sugar Intake
WASHINGTON, DC — Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), the nation’s leading cancer research organization focusing on the role of diet, weight and physical activity on cancer risk and survival, today welcomed a new report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC).
“AICR is heartened and pleased to see our Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, and the extensive, rigorous research behind them, cited throughout today’s DGAC report,” said Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD, AICR Vice President of Research. “If the Committee’s proposed changes to the existing Dietary Guidelines are accepted, they will reflect the best advice for lowering cancer risk – and move the country closer to a day when no one develops a preventable cancer.”
According to today’s DGAC report,
….the U.S. population should be encouraged and guided to consume dietary patterns that are rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products and alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains.
Following a comment period, the DGAC report will shape the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to be issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Bold, Evidence-Based, Cancer-Protective Changes Proposed
1. Limiting Red and Processed Meats
For the first time, the DGAC is recommending that Americans limit their intake of red meat and processed meats. (Previously, the Dietary Guidelines’ language has emphasized only “choosing lean meats.”) This is an important, and in AICR’s view a potentially life-saving change.
A series of American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund International expert reports, including a 2012 Continuous Update Project (CUP) report on colorectal cancer, have analyzed the findings from hundreds of studies and concluded that there is convincing evidence that diets high in red meat (more than 18 ounces (cooked) per week) are a cause of colorectal cancer. These same reports also found convincing evidence that regular consumption of processed meats (hot dogs, sausage, bacon, deli meats), even in small amounts, also increases risk.
2. Limiting Added Sugars
The DGAC report’s emphasis on avoiding added sugars – i.e., limiting intake so added sugars do not exceed 10 percent of total calories per day – is also new, and welcome.
AICR recommends avoiding sugary drinks and limiting calorie-dense foods that are high in sugar. This is because added sugars are a source of excess calories that have been linked to obesity, itself a cause of nine different cancers, according to AICR: colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer, endometrial cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, gallbladder cancer and advanced prostate cancer.
AICR estimates that excess body fat alone is a cause of approximately 112,000 U.S. cancers every year.
Experts Speak in One Voice
“Let’s be clear,” said AICR’s Higginbotham, “there is convincing evidence that if Americans moderate their intake of red meat, processed meat and added sugar today, it will lead to fewer cancers tomorrow.
“We’re glad to see the DCAG report embrace AICR’s Recommendations, and we hope these bold, cancer-protective changes do indeed become part of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”