Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eat Red Meat - Die?


That's what a new study from the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests is more likely to happen to you if you eat lots of red meat.

The researchers followed more than a half million adults aged 50 to 71 who completed food-frequency questionnaires for a decade during which some 48,000 men and 23,000 women died.

The study controlled for confounding variables including: Weight, smoking, physical activity, education, age, marital status, family history of cancer, race, total energy intake, alcohol intake, vitamin supplement use, fruit consumption, vegetable consumption and menopausal hormone replacement therapy.

So after controlling for everything what did they find?

"There was an overall increased risk of total, cancer, and CVD mortality, as well as all other deaths in both men and women in the highest compared with the lowest quintile of red meat intake in the fully adjusted model."

"There was an overall increased risk of total, cancer, and CVD mortality, as well as all other deaths in both men (Table 2) and women (Table 3) in the highest compared with the lowest quintile of processed meat intake"

"When comparing the highest with the lowest quintile of white meat intake, there was an inverse association for total mortality and cancer mortality, as well as all other deaths for both men and women"
Translation?

People who at the most red and processed meat had higher rates of total deaths, cancer deaths and cardiovascular deaths while white meat seemed to confer some protection.

The authors conclude that these results further bolster the call to reduce red and processed meat consumption.

According to an article written by Sharon Kirkey from Canwest the Canadian Cancer Society has already responded by reportedly lowering their recommendations for red meat consumption to 500grams weekly.

Constrast that rapid response with that of the Heart and Stroke Foundation whose spokesperson's quote suggests she didn't even bother reading the study saying,
"But the biggest meat eaters in the study were also more likely to be "out of shape and overweight."
despite the fact that the study adjusted for the obvious confounders of weight and fitness.

And yes of course the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Health Check misinformation program still happily sells their seal of approval to red meat and Canada's Food Guide still allows for women to consume 1,050grams weekly and men 1,575grams weekly - facts that I'm sure the Beef Industry press releases and letters to the editor are bound to mention in the coming days.

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