An international investigation into the consumption of red and processed meat has concluded that studies that for decades have pointed to the health hazards of these products are insufficiently substantiated.
The researchers, who published their work in the journal Annals Internal Medicine, concluded that the health benefits of reducing the consumption of red and processed meat are few and not enough to tell people to stop consuming this type of meat.
The study has been disputed by several Harvard University researchers, who in a statement said this new work "undermines the credibility of nutrition science and erodes public trust in scientific research."
"This is a very irresponsible health recommendation," said Frank Hu, who heads the nutrition department at the T.H Health School. Chan from Harvard University.
"It's disconcerting given the clear evidence of the damage associated with high consumption of red meat," he added.
Some critics have even asked Annals of Internal Medicine not to publish this new work.
Of the 14 authors of the study now published, 11 advised the public to maintain red meat eating habits and three expressed only a "slight suggestion" to reduce consumption.
Researchers question the World Health Organization's guidelines, as well as those of the American Society for Cancer and the American Heart Association, which for years have argued that red and processed meats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
"The certainty to demonstrate these risk reductions was low and very low," said University of Dalhousie (Canada) epidemiologist Bradley Johnston, leader of the group of researchers called NutriRECS.
The researchers also indicated that the benefits of reducing consumption can only be realized by considering large population samples, so advising people to change their habits is not necessary.
"They are not saying that meat is less risky, what they say is that the risk everyone agrees with is acceptable to people," Marji McCullough, director of epidemiology at the American Society for Cancer, told CNN.´
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