UK women's cancer rates highest in Europe

World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) released new research today revealing that women’s cancer rates are higher in Britain compared with the rest of Europe (1st August 2011)(1).

Dr Carrie Ruxton, a dietitian and member of the Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) said: “While cancer cases in British women may have increased, there has been a 10.5 per cent decrease in red meat consumption since the 1970s(2), which would contradict WCRF’s message that eating less meat will reduce your risk of developing cancer.

Many different factors are linked with the rise in cancer cases. These include smoking, obesity, better cancer diagnosis and lack of exercise, as well as the fact that people are now living longer. The complexity of cancer development means that it is impossible to pin the blame on consumption of a single food.

Because meat is one of the best sources of easily absorbed iron in the diet, UK women who cut down on red meat could be putting their health at risk. A large proportion of women, especially teenagers, already have low blood iron levels and further reducing these could lead to more cases of anaemia, fatigue and poor cognitive function.

This research adds little to existing science and consumers should continue to enjoy lean red meat as part of a balanced diet, as indicated by the British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) report on Red Meat in the Diet, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s (SACN) report on Iron and Health, and the Government’s Eatwell Plate approach to promoting a healthy balanced diet.”

For more information and advice on the role of meat in your diet please click here.

(1) GLOBOCAN, a project by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in France. This project provides contemporary estimates of national incidence and mortality from major type of cancers for all countries of the world. It is available online at 


The Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from EBLEX and BPEX.