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New Dietary Guidelines Disregard Important Link Between Diet and Cancer; Missed Opportunity to Reduce Death and Suffering

January 7, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 7, 2016 – The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines) released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, do not acknowledge the totality of evidence available to make recommendations intended to reduce consumption of foods known to cause cancer.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), a federal advisory committee of independent experts in the fields of nutrition and health, released its report with evidence-based conclusions and recommendations earlier this year. As the first committee charged with examining the extensive research on the link between diet and certain cancers, the committee explicitly recommended reduced consumption of red and processed meat, based in part on evidence that consumption of these foods increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

“The science on the link between cancer and diet is extensive. By omitting specific diet recommendations, such as eating less red and processed meat, these guidelines miss a critical and significant opportunity to reduce suffering and death from cancer,” said Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer of the American Cancer Society (Society). “For most Americans who do not use tobacco, the most important cancer risk factors that can be changed are body weight, diet and physical activity.”

The Dietary Guidelines do, for the first time, recommend consumers limit their consumption of added sugar to 10 percent or less of their daily calorie intake, a positive step to help reduce obesity and obesity-related cancers. However, the final guidelines released today, disregard an important evidence-based recommendation of the DGAC by failing to recommend that Americans eat less red and processed meat.

“We are disappointed these guidelines do not completely follow the evidence-based recommendations from the advisory committee,” said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the advocacy affiliate of the Society. “Consumers deserve the best guidance available to support them in making healthy food and beverage choices that will ultimately help reduce their cancer risk and these guidelines miss an opportunity to provide that. We will continue to advocate for national and local policies that support healthy lifestyles that reduce the cancer burden.”

New Dietary Guidelines are published every five years and must be based on the full body of scientific and medical knowledge current at the time the report is prepared. The Dietary Guidelines have wide-reaching implications as they provide the basis for federal nutrition assistance and education programs, including the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program and snacks and drinks sold in schools outside of the meal programs, as well as Women Infants and Children program, or WIC, SNAP-Ed, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

This year alone, nearly 1.7 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer and about 20 percent of those diagnoses will be attributable to poor diet, physical inactivity, and excess weight.

The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2.5 million volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society’s efforts have contributed to a 22 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. Thanks in part to our progress,14.5 million Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will celebrate more birthdays this year. We’re determined to finish the fight against cancer. We’re finding cures as the nation’s  largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit


For more information, contact:
David Sampson, American Cancer Society
Emily Rohloff, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

For media inquiries, please contact:
Alissa Crispino
Phone: (202) 661-5772

Jill Courtney
Phone: (202) 585-3278

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ACS CAN is the nation's leading cancer advocacy organization that is working every day to make cancer issues a national priority. More

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