Monday, March 23, 2009

Eat red meat - go blind?

Probably not.

Much as you might think that I only like to criticize red meat (for things like increasing the risk of cancers and death and such), here's a study that doesn't worry me too much.

It was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology and it details a cohort study of 6,734 people aged between 58 and 69 and compared their incidence of age related macular degeneration (ARMD - a condition that can lead to central blindness) versus their consumption of red meat and chicken.

The findings?

People who ate more red meat were more likely to develop ARMD.

So why am I not concerned?

Because the group at risk was the group that reported red meat consumption greater than 10 times weekly.

10 times a week?

Who eats red meat 10 times a week?

You think maybe the folks who eat red meat at least 10 times weekly might in fact have some rather unique lifestyles that in turn may be responsible for the finding?

Cause and effect are tough things to suss out of a cohort study.

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  1. Why would a professional journal even report that study? As you said, who eats red meat 10 times a week? And if we do, is it possible that we don't realize it's not a healthy thing to do? I guess some of us might not; I tend to have blinders on sometimes, assuming that everyone is as aware as I am of the health impact of what we eat.

  2. Anonymous6:43 pm

    How are they defining 'red meat'? By nutritional standards? By USDA standards? By social standards? Because I think that all three of those are different... the AP article I found stated, "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."

    Soooo... maybe it isn't so hard to believe that eating meat 10 times a week is possible, especially given the inclusion of processed meat and cold cuts?

  3. Anonymous6:43 pm

    Sorry, source:

  4. I was just about to point out that red meat consumption may or may not lead to blindness, but a new Archives of Internal Medicine paper suggests that it may be associated with mortality. Unfortunately it looks like Anonymous beat me to it. Here's a link to the abstract of the article itself -

  5. Thanks Anonymous and Travis,

    Look for my post on the study tomorrow.


  6. I've had friends who ate red meat 10 times a week. It seems amazing to me, I eat meat 3-5 times a week, and that includes fish, chicken, and a slice of bacon on my frittata. Some of these people also ate veggies (the younger ones), but I have a friend in his 60s who eats meat and pepsi every meal, fried stuff, the very occasional salad. I can't believe he doesn't have heard disease yet. I think if you ate tiny bits of meat and large amounts of veggies, it wouldn't be so bad for you. (Bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni-always bad for you)

  7. There probably was a time in my life where I ate red meat 10 times a week. The years I worked at A&W. The was no fridge or microwave in the staff room, and you were strongly encouraged to not bring a lunch. This was before the salads and veggie burgers were introduced.

    Also, living in my parents house I ate a lot of meat - to them a meal wasn't a meal without meat. Even at lunch, we'd eat ham and cheese sandwiches.

    Living on my own, I've discovered that I enjoy cooking fish and chicken more than anything else. I never buy beef or pork for myself. If I do eat beef, it's at the most once a week - on Friday nights.

  8. Who would eat red meat 10 times a week? Lots of farm kids and children of hunters. What about the executive dining crowd, Parliamentarians and the Canadian Forces? Then there's the all year round barbecue rs, and the truckers and others who have irregular hours and eat the majority of their meals away from home. The elderly and the ill conserve energy by either eating out or making crock pot/roaster meals where they can throw in the meat and vegetables for supper in the morning when they feel best and slowly cook them for a hot supper at night.