This topic has received plenty of attention recently after the World Health Organization declared red meat a level 2A carcinogen last year. Level 2A carcinogen means that observational studies have shown that there is a positive relationship between red meat consumption and cancer, and that there is strong evidence to show the underlying mechanism of action .
Observational studies are several notches below randomized controlled trials, which are considered the ‘gold standard’ for scientific investigation. This means that the evidence is there but still considered limited. In addition, the relationship between red meat and cancer doesn’t necessarily apply to all cancer sites; it’s strongest for colorectal, with a possible link to pancreatic and prostate cancer as well.
So what does this mean for red meat consumption?
- Limit red meat to 1-2/week and keep your portion to 3 ounces/85g. Red meat is rich in iron which is particularly important for pre-menopausal women.
- Choose lean cuts of meat like beef tenderloin, flank steak, top round, sirloin, and brisket.
- Cook low and slow to avoid charring. (Learn why here).
 Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. World Health Organization, International Agency For Research on Cancer. 2015 Oct.