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  2. May 24, 2018

New Cancer-Prevention Guidelines: Avoid Processed Meat, Eat a Plant-Based Diet

Doctors Say Ditching All Meat and Dairy Products Provides Most Protection

WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors—says a report released today by The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) includes simple-to-implement guidelines such as avoiding processed meat and eating a mostly plant-based diet to reduce cancer risk. The Physicians Committee recommends avoiding all meat and dairy products for the greatest protection against cancer.

“Ditch all meat and dairy products to cut your cancer risk the most,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee and co-author of Applying the Precautionary Principle to Nutrition and Cancer. “But the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research’s recommendations to avoid processed meat and eat a mostly plant-based diet are a great first step toward cancer prevention.”

The new WCRF/AICR report—Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective—finds that there is strong evidence that consuming both red meat and processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer. The report also finds that there is suggestive evidence that consumption of dairy products might increase the risk of prostate cancer.

“The evidence on processed meat and cancer is clear-cut. The data show that no level of intake can confidently be associated with a lack of risk,” says professor Martin Wiseman, World Cancer Research Fund International’s medical and scientific adviser.

Eating meat is not an essential part of a healthy diet, according to the report, which says that people who choose to eat meat-free diets can obtain adequate amounts of protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 nutrients through careful food selection. The authors say people can obtain adequate protein from a mixture of legumes and grains.

The report also recommends making whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes such as beans and lentils a major part of your diet.

“Basing our diets around plant foods (like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans), which contain fiber and other nutrients, can reduce our risk of cancer,” according to the report.

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Jeanne Stuart McVey



Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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