Submissions from an Independent Researcher

Dominik Alexander, PhD, is a cancer epidemiologist with expertise in systematic review methodology, meta-analysis, and disease causation. He receives research funding from numerous organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and public and private organizations. Regardless of funding support, all of his research projects are conceptualized, designed, conducted, and interpreted independently, and his manuscripts are subject to critical peer review as part of the customary publication process.

Because of Dr. Alexander’s expertise in the epidemiology of red meat and cancer, EpidStat Institute was commissioned by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, to provide a comprehensive summary of the epidemiologic evidence pertaining to red meat and processed meat consumption and all types of cancer. All work was performed objectively and transparently in accordance with well-established guidelines for performing systematic reviews of the evidence, including the PRISMA statement and MOOSE guidelines. The following submissions were developed independently by Dr. Alexander, based on his review of the evidence, in response to IARC’s call for data on this topic.

Red Meat and Cancer Meta-Analyses Review
(Dominik Alexander, PhD, MSPH, April 20, 2015)
Based on his series of meta-analyses on red and processed meat intake (alone or in combination) and cancer risk, Dr. Alexander’s submission highlights the complexity and methodological challenges associated with reviewing the evidence on this topic. His submission summarizes his team’s research findings, which include (but are not limited to):

  • Most summary associations between red meat and processed meat and cancer are weak in magnitude (i.e. RR <1.2) and not statistically significant.
  • Many associations for red/processed meat and cancer from individual studies are null or inverse.
  • The majority of associations from individual studies are not statistically significant.
  • It’s nearly impossible to disentangle the independent effects of red meat from the complex human diet and lifestyle.

Review the full submission and its bibliography* here

Red Meat and Processed Meat and Cancer: A Summary of the Epidemiology
(Dominik Alexander, PhD, MSPH, September 8, 2015)
With his team, Dr. Alexander has conducted a comprehensive review of the available epidemiologic evidence pertaining to red meat and processed meat consumption and many types of cancer. His submission notes that “epidemiology is not sufficient to make a causal inference between red meat and cancer,” and his conclusions include:

  • Statistical summary associations are weak in magnitude, making it difficult to differentiate an association that is not impacted by chance, bias or confounding factors.
  • There is no clear pattern of a dose-response relationship when coalescing different ways of evaluating potential trends, such as by categorical intake groupings, meta-regression and continuous linear and/or non-linear patterns.
  • Results between studies (and even within studies in many cases) are relatively inconsistent.
  • A relatively small proportion of individual study relative risks, as well as summary relative risks, are statistically significant.
  • Definitions of red and processed meat vary considerably in the literature, rendering it difficult to harmonize exposure categories.

Review the full submission and its bibliography* here

*Within each bibliography a link to the manuscript is included, when available.