WASHINGTON DC – Today experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), which studies how diet, weight and physical activity affect cancer risk, expressed dissatisfaction with the newly released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
In particular, the cancer research and education charity voiced concern that the authors of the Guidelines ignored the advice of their own scientific advisors and caved to meat industry pressure by disregarding clear and convincing evidence on the roles that red and processed meat play in in cancer risk.
AICR acknowledged, however, that the Guidelines’ new, stronger language on sugar – advising Americans to limit their intake to no more than 10 percent of daily calories – is a step in the right direction. Diets high in sugar encourage overweight and obesity, and AICR research shows that excess body fat is a risk factor for ten different cancers.
Lobbying Efforts Impact American Health
“As an organization dedicated to cancer prevention, we are dismayed to see that the Dietary Guidelines have allowed lobbying efforts to supersede the scientific evidence, when it comes to meat and cancer risk,” said AICR Vice-President for Research Susan Higginbotham PhD, RD. She added, “The Dietary Guidelines have a profound and positive health impact on so many children, older adults and families in the U.S.; this failure to embrace decades of research with the potential to save thousands of American lives represents a missed opportunity.”
AICR research has shown that diets high in red meat are convincingly linked to colorectal cancer. For years, AICR has urged the authors of the Dietary Guidelines to join them in calling on Americans to limit consumption of red meat and avoid processed meat. Earlier this year, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, an independent team of scientists tasked with compiling evidence and making recommendations for the government officials who write the final Dietary Guidelines, cited AICR’s evidence and advice.
Yet once again, the Guidelines instruct Americans only to “choose lean meats.”
One Voice on Sugar
Similarly, AICR advises avoiding sugary drinks and limiting “energy-dense” foods with added sugars. Earlier this year AICR joined many other national health organizations in urging the authors of the Dietary Guidelines to include more specific advice for Americans.
“We estimate that avoiding obesity could prevent almost 122,000 U.S. cases of cancer every year,” said AICR’s Head of Nutrition Programs Alice Bender, MS, RDN. “Today, the US Dietary Guidelines authors presented Americans with clear, actionable advice on sugar consumption that will have a positive impact on public health,” she continued. “Their failure to do the same with respect to red and processed meat, despite clear and convincing scientific evidence, is a blow to all who believe that research should have a more central role in shaping the American diet than industry lobbyists.”
Editor’s Notes: The conclusions and report Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer, is available on the CUP pages.