Happy Pear twins apologise for ‘factually wrong’ social media video on breast cancer risk

Seoirse Mulgrew

The Happy Pear twins Stephen and David Flynn have apologised for causing upset after posting a video online suggesting ways to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer through diet.

The video, which has since been deleted from their Instagram account, made claims about breast cancer rates in women in the UK and other high-income countries, and put forward ways people can reduce their risk of breast cancer.

In a post on Instagram on Sunday, the twins said it was not their intention to upset anyone.

“We posted a video recently about breast cancer and a number of people got upset and we just wanted to say that was never our intention and we’re really sorry for upsetting anyone,” they said.

“It was a snippet from a podcast that we recorded with a doctor on women’s health but just wanted to say apologies.”

The vegan brothers run a café and shop in Greystones, Co Wicklow, and are well known for their cookbooks, courses and embracing a healthy lifestyle.

However, the short video posted to the pair’s Instagram promoting their most recent podcast episode, came in for heavy criticism online, with many commenters urging them to remove the video.

Over video footage, a voiceover on the clip said: “One in seven women in the UK and other high-income countries will get a diagnosis of breast cancer in their lifetime, versus one in a hundred in Hong Kong and one in a thousand in China.

“Some of the possible factors are excessive saturated fat intake, excessive dairy intake and excessive animal products intake.

“Here’s five things to reduce your risk; aim for a healthy body weight, eat mostly whole food, plant-based. Aim for eight to 13 fruit and veg portions per day; reduce alcohol consumption, avoid smoking and move regularly; eat mushrooms - reduces your risk of breast cancer, east soy products two to three times per day.”

The video was branded “factually wrong” by scientist Dr David Robert Grimes, whose work has included research on cancer and tumours and who says diet is just a small contributing factor to developing the disease.

Dr Grimes told Independent.ie that even if someone did everything ‘right’, the amount of modifiable risk - the ability of a person to affect their chances of getting the disease - is only 30pc. The WHO echoes this, saying it’s “at most 30pc”.

He said there is no clear evidence to back up the claim that reducing dairy will impact a person’s risk of getting cancer.

“Most cancer research groups, charities and institutes in the world will tell you that the evidence does not support that at all,” he said.

“In some cancers like bowel cancers, it can decrease risk.

“In the video they also tried to make an inference about the population about parts of Asia versus the population of Europe and there are massive differences in a lot of things there.

“You can’t just pin it down to diet - it gets very hard to figure out exactly what diet is doing - but the truth of the matter is that it’s probably not doing that much.”