Our cherished and healthy low-carb red meat is under assault again
I’m sure by now you’ve heard about that study that came out this week on how consuming red meat is killing you, right? Here are just a few of the thousands of health headline stories that are blaring from coast to coast right now about this:
Study: Too much red meat shortens life
Live longer by reducing red meat intake
Are You Eating Too Much Meat?
The Growing Case Against Red Meat
Red meat increases risk of death from cancer
Too much red meat will kill you – study
Eating Red Meat May Boost Death Risk
And my favorite one of all…
Death link to too much red meat (won’t we ALL die of something someday?)
As with most studies about health that come out, the average Joe or Jane on the street will simply look at these headlines, hear it talked about on Good Morning America, The View, Oprah, and their local news, rationalize in their minds that it makes sense, and decide to cut down on their red meat consumption–even if it is only temporary. Our pop culture society doesn’t demand much more investigation into supposedly scientific claims that are made like this and a lot of people are gullible enough to believe the reporting of these studies without doing their due diligence in checking them out for themselves. And that’s precisely what the anti-meat zealots are betting on!
This purposeful veganization (that’s my new term for the radical vegetarians and vegans who would like nothing more than to have everyone in the entire world eat the way they do) that has been going on for the past few decades is so easy to see through that you’d have to have your mind shut down to miss it. And yet how many of us low-carbers will see friends and family and hear them talk about this so-called “study” that warns about eating red meat and share their concern for our health? You know it’s gonna happen if it hasn’t already. While they’ll be well-meaning in their comments, these people are utterly clueless about what a “healthy” meat-based low-carb diet like Atkins is really all about because of the anti-meat tenor of most health news coverage. However, this could be an excellent opportunity to educate them about the truth of livin’ la vida low-carb, too.
So what about this study published in the March 23, 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine? Lead researcher Dr. Rashmi Sinha from the NIH-based government group called the National Cancer Institute and her fellow researchers conducted a prospective study of 500,000 people who were a part of the NIH–AARP Diet and Health Study. These study participants ranged in age from 50-71 when the study began in 1995. Dr. Sinha states that this study is very likely the largest one conducted to date examining the dietary consumption of red and processed meats with cancer, heart disease, and death. Their premise was that high intakes of red or processed meat may increase the risk of mortality and the researchers wanted to see if there was a relationship between meat-eating and death.
A detailed survey questionnaire was distributed to the study participants to determine their food intake and the researchers kept tabs on them for a decade by tapping into the Social Security Administration database to see any deaths that took place. After ten years, a total of 47,976 men and 23, 276 women had died. They divided up the participants into various categories according to the frequency of their red meat consumption. Red meat in this study was defined as beef, pork, bacon, ham, hamburger, hot dogs, liver, pork sausage, steak, and meats in foods such as pizza, stews, and lasagna. Processed meat included white or red meat that was cured, dried, or smoked, like bacon, chicken sausage, lunch meats, and cold cuts.
To establish a clear definition of what was considered “high” versus “low” consumption, Dr. Sinha said the group with the highest intake of red meat ate an average of just 4.5 ounces daily. Conversely, the group with the lowest intake of red meat ate on average about a half-ounce per day. As for the processed meats, the heavy consumers consumed 1.5 ounces daily while the lightest eaters ate a minuscule one-tenth of an ounce.
What did the researchers conclude about the connection between meat consumption and deaths as a result of the data they gathered? The biggest red meat and processed meat eaters were at a higher overall risk of dying during the study period with a specific increase in risk from cancer and heart disease death. Statistically speaking, the risk of dying was nearly one-third (31 percent) higher among the meat-eaters compared to those who ate the lowest amount of red meat. And for women it was worse–the biggest red meat eating females experienced a 50 percent greater risk of death from heart disease.
Dr. Sinha added that 11 percent of all deaths in men and 16 percent of deaths in women would have been prevented if the heavy red meat eaters would have adopted the habits of their fellow participants who ate less red meat. She contended that heart disease fatalities would have dipped by 11 percent in men and 21 percent in women had they backed off on the red meat. And the cancer risk was about 20 percent higher in those who ate the most red meat as well as 10 percent higher in those who ate the most processed meats. The researchers said white meats like chicken and turkey, generally lower in fat, were the most “protective” against deaths, including those associated with cancer.
Okay, so that’s the study in a nutshell. What’s my initial reaction to it?
For starters, this thing is one big yawner because it doesn’t “prove” anything. Many of the people in the study were already old when the study began and some of the gizzards would have been in their 80s by the end of the study period. Can we not extrapolate that a good many of those deaths that occurred just happened because it was Grandma and Grandpa’s time to go? Plus, who knows what their health was like apart from their diet prior to this study beginning? You can’t attribute causality between their meat-eating and their eventual death.
It would be the same as doing this–all of the people in the study who died breathed oxygen when they were alive, so surely it had to be the air that killed them! Or, even more absurd, how about that survey all of the study participants filled out? Did you ever stop to think THAT could have been the reason for their deaths? It’s just as ridiculous to blame the air and that questionnaire on the deaths as the red meat the researchers did in this study.
But while we’re attaching blame to the foods consumed by those involved in the study, how much you wanna bet that those people who were eating the most red meat were also consuming a boatload of carbohydrates in their diet? You cannot overlook the negative impact that sugar/carbs very likely played on the cancer, heart disease, and death statistics found in this study. Would the results have been the same if the people consuming the red meat had kicked the carbs while eating more red meat? Who knows because Dr. Sinha doesn’t tell us. Again, that’s what makes this study so irrelevant.
Although Dr. Sinha feigns innocence and claims only to be interested in the science, she and her researchers have only given more fuel to the fire of the vegetarian and vegan interest groups out there like this one (who described low-carbers as “kooks”) to spout their anti-meat nonsense to the world. And their willing accomplices in the press absolutely devoured this one up as the great Dr. Mike Eades pointed out so brilliantly in his in-depth analysis of this worthless study this week.
I for one will not be giving up my delicious and healthy red meat consumption which is a whole lot more than 4.5 ounces a day! In fact, I routinely eat a 13-ounce T-bone steak in one MEAL like I had for lunch this past Sunday. That’s three times the amount that allegedly KILLED these study participants, so is my risk of dying in the next ten years three times QUICKER? What kind of dopes do these people think we are?
When asked to elaborate on why she thinks it was the red meat consumption that led to these increases in cancer, heart disease and death, Dr. Sinha theorized the following:
– Meats produced carcinogens when they are cooked
– Cells are damaged from excessive iron intake
– Saturated fat leads to heart disease and cancer
Ahhhhh, now we’re getting into some major anti-meat bias here. Dr. Sinha has fallen into the trap that so many veg-heads do when looking at meat–it’ll kill you because you animal lovers like to BBQ it up and eats gobs and gobs of it with all that saturated fat that’s gonna clog your arteries and make you keel over with a heart attack! Puhleez people! There’s no evidence to substantiate any of these claims and plenty of it to discredit the notion that meat in and of itself leads to any health complications. Just face the facts–meat is an extremely important aspect of a healthy lifestyle when you keep your carbohydrate intake to a minimum. This point is irrefutable and backed by plenty of science already.
Nevertheless, Dr. Sinha recommends that people consume no more than 18 ounces of red meat weekly by limiting their consumption to no more than two days a week while giving up all processed meat entirely. She says people should become almost-vegetarians for the sake of improving their mortality rates.
Well, that just ain’t gonna happen in the Moore household, Dr. Sinha! With all due respect to you and your research, this changes nothing about how I choose to live a healthy lifestyle because red meat saved my life. When I weighed over 400 pounds in 2004 and decided to start on the Atkins diet to do something about it, red meat became a major part of my life. Whereas I used to eat a big bun and French fries with my hamburgers or a baked potato and dinner roll with my steak, now I forgo those wasted carbs and just stick with the healthy parts of those cuts of meat–the fat and protein! Today I am a new man as a result of consuming delicious and hearty cuts of red meat. And I’m not about to let you or anyone else rob me of the joy that has come from this incredible journey to better health.
You can contact Dr. Rashmi Sinha about her red meat study by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let her know YOUR experience eating red meat and how it has IMPROVED your weight and health. She needs to know how nonsensical her study is to those of us who are adhering to the low-carb lifestyle.