Red Meat = Death?

I just read this article on Yahoo news stating that “older people” who ate “large amounts” of red meat and processed meat have a higher death rate from basically everything. The study showed that women who ate more red meat had a higher rate of death from cancer. The article is here.

I have copied the article, and will interject my thoughts in a contrasting color:

CHICAGO – The largest study of its kind finds that older Americans who eat large amounts of red meat and processed meats face a greater risk of death from heart disease and cancer. The federal study of more than half a million men and women bolsters prior evidence of the health risks of diets laden with red meat like hamburger and processed meats like hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts.

From what I can gather, this wasn’t a study based on the servings of meat being “pure”- the meat servings were either processed or in hamburger form, which if you read my Do Not Eat Fast Food post, you would know that there is a ton of junk in just the bun of a fast food hamburger, besides the cheap grain-feed beef. (assuming that at least a marked amount of hamburgers the participants were eating were fast food…likely as these were Americans and there were 545,000+ people in the study). There are also ridiculous amounts of sodium, preservatives, and nitrates in processed meats.

Calling the increased risk modest, lead author Rashmi Sinha of the National Cancer Institute said the findings support the advice of several health groups to limit red and processed meat intake to decrease cancer risk.

I agree about limiting or eradicating intake of processed meat, and about limiting or eradicating intake of grain raised non-organic red meat. (Actually, any meat that is non-organic).

Speaking of decreasing cancer risk, there are many, many more things to do than decrease red meat and processed meat (I agree with the elimination of processed meat). Eat huge amounts of delicious vegetables, exercise, do not smoke, have love in your life, take vacations, do not use toxic products like chemical-laden body lotions, shampoos and soaps. Use natural household cleaners, get a shower filter.

The findings appear in Monday’s Archives of Internal Medicine.

Over 10 years, eating the equivalent of a quarter-pound hamburger daily gave men in the study a 22 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease. That’s compared to those who ate the least red meat, just 5 ounces per week.

In the context of the medicine I practice, meat is considered a tonifying or building food, especially red meat or lamb. As a rule, tonifying foods for people in developed countries need to be limited/ monitored, as most people consume too much food without enough quality energy expenditure.

Women who ate large amounts of red meat had a 20 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease than women who ate less.

Again, remember this study is basing it’s findings on people who were not eating quality, non-processed organic meats.

For processed meats, the increased risks for large quantities were slightly lower overall than for red meat. The researchers compared deaths in the people with the highest intakes to deaths in people with the lowest to calculate the increased risk.

People whose diets contained more white meat like chicken and fish had lower risks of death.

In my medicine, while still tonifying/ strengthening, white meats are less so tonifying than red meat. Physiologically, this has to do with the leanness of these meats (leanness= fat content).

The researchers surveyed more than 545,000 people, ages 50 to 71 years old, on their eating habits, then followed them for 10 years. There were more than 70,000 deaths during that time.

Study subjects were recruited from AARP members, a group that’s healthier than other similarly aged Americans. (this is an organization for seniors who are concerned with living the good life- travel, community, longevity, etc..) That means the findings may not apply to all groups, Sinha said. The study relied on people’s memory of what they ate, which can be faulty.

In the analysis, the researchers took into account other risk factors such as smoking, family history of cancer and high body mass index.

In an accompanying editorial, Barry Popkin, director of the Interdisciplinary Obesity Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote that reducing meat intake would have benefits beyond improved health.

Livestock increase greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming, he wrote, and nations should reevaluate farm subsidies that distort prices and encourage meat-based diets.

“We’ve promoted a diet that has added excessively to global warming,” Popkin said in an interview.

While I absolutely believe that our exorbitent slaughterhouse ranches contribute significantly to local pollution due to waste runoff seeping into groundwater, lakes, streams, and homes, there doesn’t seem to be a way to accurately calculate methane contribution to “global warming” from cattle alone. Yes, methane is toxic. In a recent article discussing vegetarianisms contribution to saving the world, the author postulates that we currently have 100 milloin head of cattle in America awaiting slaughter or for dairy, yet in the time of pre-colonization Native American Indian-ness, there were easily 100 million head of bison roaming. Okay, but what there wasn’t were 6.5 billion+ people, cars, planes, chemical plants etc. Our diet has promoted excessively to global pollution not only from our meat obsession, but also from our obsession of having whatever we want whenever we want regardless of native plant population or season, thereby necessitating excessive use of freight shipping, trucking, and importing- all of which pollute.

Successfully shifting away from red meat can be as easy as increasing fruits and vegetables in the diet, said Elisabetta Politi of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C.

“I’m not saying everybody should turn into vegetarians,” Politi said. “Meat should be a supporting actor on the plate, not the main character.”

I totally agree with this statement, especially for average Americans who do not weight train, bodybuild, or do Crossfit religiously. I also agree it should be done especially by increasing intake of vegetables, not breads, pastas and grains, all of which raise glycemic indexes and are being found to contribute to inflammation. (Hence eating grass fed beef, as we end up eating what the animal eats by eating the animal)

The National Pork Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association questioned the findings.

No, really?!?! I’m shocked!

Dietitian Ceci Snyder said in a statement for the pork board that the study “attempts to indict all red meat consumption by looking at extremes in meat consumption, as opposed to what most Americans eat.”

No, I would venture to say that what most Americans eat are the extremes in meat consumption…meat at all three meals, meat as a snack (jerky), processed meat, fast food meat…

Lean meat as part of a balanced diet can prevent chronic disease, along with exercise and avoiding smoking, said Shalene McNeill, dietitian for the beef group.

Umm…way to state the obvious.

So, what was the point of breaking down that article for you? One thing I would love to teach people to is to read articles like this objectively. It was also an opportunity to integrate my positions and viewpoints in contrast to published mainstream material.

Another thing that I hope people will learn to do is to read every label of every pre-packaged product they buy. In just the last month alone I have found (not in my own home or grocery store, of course) two mainstream food-type products to contain Sucralose (Splenda) without it being indicated on the front of the package. One was in Act II microwave popcorn Kettlecorn flavour, the other were Mission tortillas. The tortillas were marketed as being “Carb-balancing”- whatever that means- so I had to check it out. Listen, tortillas should contain 3 ingredients: Flour or corn, water, salt. These contained at least 10 ingredients, including hydrogenated oil and Poison- oops, I mean Splenda (labeled as sucralose). Needless to say I was stymied and angry.

Please please please read your packaged food labels! You are your only true defendant of your health! Make it a habit to be your own diligent advocate!

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