Of the iceberg. While I support moderation in meat consumption...I guess...I have always been slightly skeptical of the more hysterical warnings. It seems science has plodded along as usual to moderate our most alarming suspicions.
The government, public health advocates, and the American Heart Association have long warned Americans that overconsumption of red meat can lead to heart disease and other ailments. Yet the scientific evidence supporting this hypothesis has always been weak. And in fact, this month's study isn't the first to fly in the face of these assumptions. A large study in Japan also found no increase in heart disease deaths from moderate meat consumption as well.For some reason, this discovery reassures me of the self-righting feature of good research. It also supports my view that people tend not have a few bad habits, but many. I have no real backup evidence, and maybe we just don't notice the behaviors of those we like.
And last year, Harvard researchers published another similar large study. The media reporting on the study declared that researchers had found that "adding an extra portion of unprocessed red meat to someone's daily diet would increase the risk of death by 13%. The figures for processed meat were higher, 20% for overall mortality." But the Harvard data also showed that meat consumption had a protective effect for a lot of people. Up to a certain point, people who ate more of it fared better than those who ate little or none. The source of some of this confusion is simple: People who eat junk food are unhealthy in myriad ways that make it nearly impossible to zero in on a single food item as the source of their health woes.
To see what I mean, let's take a closer look at the EU study. Known as the European Prospective Investigation in Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), it included more than half a million people from 10 European countries who were queried on a host of different factors, from how much and what they ate to their levels of education, their age, their weight, and whether they'd ever smoked. The study indicated that people who eat a lot of processed meats are also more likely to smoke, eat few fruits and vegetables, and have lower levels of education. They're much fatter and exercise less than the rest of the sample. And men in this category are also serious boozers. Oh, and the heavy meat eaters were older, too—so many of them were well into their 70s by the time they suffered the consequences of too many sausage rolls.
And the people who ate the most processed meat—which the study qualifies as more than 160 grams per day (about six sausage links' worth)—didn't only die of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, the things we associate with a bad diet; they also died of lots of "other causes," a category that includes car crashes, accidental injuries, and other non-food-related causes. (The study's big chicken eaters, on the other hand, were the Girl Scouts of the data pool: They don't smoke much, they eat lots of vegetables, exercise, go to college, and no doubt brush their teeth, wear seatbelts, and get regular checkups.) [More]
And yes - this is from what many farmers would consider a "liberal" media outlet. But that's the beauty of being liberal or moderate - you can change your mind if the facts warrant it.