The term ‘meat’ encompasses a variety of foods, including unprocessed red meat (beef, veal, pork and lamb), processed meat, poultry and fish. Processed meat differs from unprocessed red meat in that it may be cured with the addition of preservatives and/or other additives.
The consumption of red meat and processed meat is convincingly associated with a modest increased risk of bowel cancer. There is also strong evidence that the consumption of processed meat increases risk of stomach cancer.
There is insufficient evidence to draw any conclusions on poultry intake and cancer risk. For fish consumption, there is limited suggestive evidence that it may be linked to a reduced risk of breast, bowel and prostate cancer.
Despite the concerns about meat and cancer, Cancer Council recognises that lean red meat is an important contributor to dietary iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and protein in the Australian diet. Cancer Council recommends:
- Moderate consumption of unprocessed lean red meat. A moderate amount of meat is 65–100 g of cooked red meat, 3–4 times a week;
- Limiting or avoiding processed meats such as sausages, frankfurts, salami, bacon and ham, which are high in fat and salt;
- Limiting consumption of burnt or charred meat; and
- Choosing lean cuts of meat and chicken, and eating more fish and plenty of plant based foods such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals.
See the full position statement:
Meat and Cancer Prevention Position Statement