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International Agency for Research on Cancer

As a Team Beef Idaho member, I take my meat very seriously. I'm sure you have heard the story this week about how meat is linked to cancer. I just want to be informed and inform you about what all of this really means.

I'm sharing an email I received from the Beef Council that is full of information below.

International Agency for Research on Cancer

The potential relationship between red meat consumption and cancer risk continues to be a controversial topic debated in the scientific community, among authoritative bodies, and via social and traditional media channels. In November 2014, the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced it will be evaluating red and processed meat with regard to carcinogenicity. In October, this group convened for a seven-day meeting to come to a collective decision on the potential carcinogenicity of red and processed meat. Next, IARC will publish a final decision (referred to as an IARC monograph) regarding the classification of red and processed meats as a carcinogen and the degree of certainty (definite, probable, possible, not classifiable, probably not) supported by the evidence. The conclusions of the meeting were published this morning in a publication called The Lancet.
Prior to the official conclusions being published in the Lancet, at least one UK-based media outlet, the Daily Mail, published a story suggesting that a well-placed source revealed that IARC will say that processed meats cause cancer and that red meats probably cause cancer. We expect additional media coverage in the coming days and weeks around this topic. There are a few resources you can review yourself (we ask that you don't share these through your social media properties) to help you get prepared with background on IARC:
As members of the beef community, it is important to share your family's story of nutrition and health and how beef plays a role in a healthy lifestyle. Here are the resources we have prepared to help you share the positive beef and health message.
Additionally, if you are in need of messages to share on your social properties or to reference during conversations with consumers, feel free to use the following points - as always, take these and make them personal to you.
Cancer is a complex disease that even the best and brightest minds don't understand; but what we do know is that single foods, including beef, haven't been proven to cause any type of cancer.
  • Based on scientific evidence, it's unrealistic to isolate one single food that can cause or cure cancer.
  • Billions of research dollars over several decades in studies all over the world have failed to prove any single food causes or cures cancer.
  • What we do know is that aging is probably your biggest risk factor for developing cancer. Of the things we can control, we know smoking causes cancer and that being overweight and physically inactive significantly increases your risk as well.
  • Research shows that when people have overall healthy lifestyles, they reduce their risks for chronic diseases, such as cancer - including one of the biggest risk factors, obesity. The best advice to improve all aspects of your health is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, which includes lean meat, maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and of course, don't smoke.
Cancer risk isn't about diet alone.
  • There are a constellation of factors that may be associated with cancer risk - meaning the probability of getting cancer - which include age, genetics, socioeconomic characteristics, obesity, lack of physical activity, where you grew up, alcohol consumption, smoking and even your profession.
  • Therefore, it is unrealistic to isolate a single food as a cause of cancer and that's why maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is more important than worrying about any individual food.
  • Of the things we can control, research shows by far, the most important factors to focus on is not to smoke, to maintain a healthy body weight and to stay physically active.
  • As far as your diet is concerned, the strongest science supports a healthy and balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from all food groups.
Scientific experts agree that maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle can reduce your risk of cancer.
  • If you enjoy eating beef, it's important to keep it in your healthy diet. It's a great tasting food and provides an essential source of key nutrients like iron, zinc and high quality protein.
  • Beef is a high-quality protein and essential nutrients can be part of a healthy diet for weigh management. In fact, there is strong evidence that diets higher in protein can have advantages for weight loss and weight management.
Most of us have had a family member or friend who has faced cancer.
  • As a mom/scientist/member of the beef community, it's important to me to understand what the research shows so I have reviewed it carefully and I do not believe red meat causes cancer based on the scientific evidence.  And we have asked other scientists and they agree - cancer is too complex to say a single food causes cancer.
  • It's easy to get caught up in reports or studies of the day and many of them often send mixed messages, but remember, you know best what works for your healthy diet and your individual risk.  Talk to you doctor or a registered dietitian if you want to learn more about your risk and a healthy diet.
A team of independent scientists, supported through a research grant by the Beef Checkoff, conducted a comprehensive review of the same science that the panel looked at, and it is clear: Based on the evidence, there is no cause and effect relationship between consuming beef and cancer. In fact, no single food has been shown to independently cause cancer. 
  • We do think the topic of diet and cancer is incredibly important and, as such, we are making available all the research regarding beef so you can see how we - and other experts -- have drawn our conclusion, that beef is not an independent risk factor for cancer. Visit


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