Red meat mortality study causes stir-

Today many people are emailing and posting to Facebook the just released study telling that “Red Meat Consumption is Linked to Increased Risk of Total, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality.” The entire study was just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

After controlling for differences in folk’s family history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, age, deviation from normal weight for their height, and amount of physical activity, the researchers found that one daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with increased mortality by 13%.  Processed meat upped the mortality rate by 20%. Processed meat is like hot dogs, or lunch meat slices preserved with sodium nitrite.

Replacing the red meat with just one serving a day was associated with decreased mortality by the following: 7% for fish, 14% poultry, 19% nuts, 10% legumes, 10% for low-fat dairy products, 14% for whole grains. These figures are over the long haul, as study participants were followed for 22-28 years.

This study was released at a time when many school lunch programs and some supermarkets were being hit by revelations that their hamburger contains varying amounts of “pink slime,” officially marketed as “very finely ground beef.” There is a debate whether the material is really meat, though it does contain connective tissues, scarps and other things that would otherwise be waste. To prevent the excessive growth of bacteria, the material is hosed down with ammonia, according to the stories such as Is Pink Slime in the Beef at Your Grocery Store? ABC News.

Funding the study was the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Cancer Institute. The study followed almost 40-thousand men and over 80-thousand women for up to 28 years.

A number of those who comment on the Wildlife News have said they are suspicious of farmed and processed red meat, and eat wild game, simply avoid red meat, or are vegan/vegetarians. While fish consumption is associated with reduced mortality, there is growing concerned that fish are often polluted with mercury and other pollutants that move up the food chain. An alternative is consumption of molecularly distilled fish oil capsules.

The production of red meats has recently been shown to be extremely resource intensive. All meats are, but not to the same degree. The study did not determine if the association with increased mortality is inherent to red meat or to what the animals were fed or injected with (such as antibiotics).

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

15 Responses to Red meat, especially processed red meat, discovered to up the risk of heart trouble and cancer

  1. avatar Daniel Berg says:

    Average american puts down between 60-70 lbs of beef per year.

    http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/1239Similar

    I can’t eat beef like that anymore. In college, I could throw down Double Whoppers, Triple-Stacks, or Sourdough Jacks with the best of them, but it got to the point that I was completed grossed out by my own dietary habits. I still love beef, but I feel much better to limiting the intake to once a week, or once every couple of weeks.

  2. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Just curious how an advanced primate of the Great ape family genus Homo that evolved to eat at least some red meat—raw—along with a plant diet, omnivorously , would be succeptible to cancer from same.

    Those canine teeth on either side of your front chompers are the giveaway. The takeaway is probably the way in which we Americans process ( overprocess) our food , which to me seems to be the more likely cause .

    • avatar Alan says:

      Cody, you answered your own question. “…evolved to eat at least some red meat….”
      Not every day. Not four or five times a week even. Occasionally. Plus not in the huge serving sizes Americans love. A serving is about the size of a pack of playing cards, they said. When was the last time you saw a steak that small? Plus, as WM, Save Bears and some of the other hunters on here would point out in a heartbeat (pardon the pun), wild game has a lot less fat than cattle.

      • avatar WM says:

        Alan,

        ++…wild game has a lot less fat than cattle.++

        It is not just the source of the protein, but the way it is prepared, and with what. Our family eats alot of things like stew, where a small portion of bit size elk meat, browned in olive oil, is only a focal point around which the usual garden vegetables, and a few sweet parsnips, the occasional rutabega or turnip, and a few mushrooms make for a healthy balanced meal. We often serve a thin stew over brown or white rice, or maybe fortify it with barley.

        Stroganoff, chili, Hungarian goulash or other dishes incorporating elk, as well as lean pork the origin of which is known, also make a difference.

        A son of one of my hunting partners, attended one of the premiere chef/cooking schools in Seattle a couple years back. He made a medallions of elk (probably tenderloin or backstrap) with a reduced red wine sauce spiced creatively, and apparently impressed his mentors sufficiently with the dish and his other talents to graduate with honors from that institution.

    • avatar Salle says:

      I’m gonna agree with you on that one. I have been of the mindset that all the preservatives and all the overcooking and whatever else we do to screw up food so that it’s little more than gray matter, unless you grow and produce your own or have good sources of real food sans the “processing”, are the causes of many of our modern maladies, physical and psychological.

      Aside from all this hand wringing about how’m I ‘sposed to eat steak, then? I think that most people who eat red meat don’t understand the physiology and nutrient value (or lack thereof) this foodstuff actually has. Not much, with exception of the amino acid (I think it’s 22 or something like that) it doesn’t do all that much for you and we could likely get that or comparable nutrient elsewhere. Meat addicts you to eat. A Japanese nutritionist, Muramoto, claimed that it acts a lot like white (heavily processed) sugar… you get a brief boost and then it’s nap time, aka “crash-time” as you lose energy and alertness. Works like too much caffeine. And the more you eat, Muramoto claimed, the more you desired to eat it again, an addiction. It takes a while to wean yourself off the stuff too. I can only wonder what effects all those growth hormones and antibiotics do to one’s blood-making process. (That’s what your organs’ job is, to make blood that carries all the nutrients and oxygen throughout your body and your brain. If the food you eat is deficient, so is the blood your body makes, thus, illness/disease is sure to follow.) He doesn’t advocate eating meat or drinking milk which at least 70% of humans don’t digest – and which is for baby cows not humans.

      It’s a great book… if you can find it.

      Healing Ourselves,Naboru Muramoto. 1973. Avon Books, NY. ISBN: 380-24249-495 (I think).

  3. avatar Jeff says:

    It would be interesting if they could further tease the data to discriminate between corn fed beef vs. grass fed beef. The ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s is grossly out of whack in corn fed beef, grass fed beef is comparable to elk and bison.

  4. avatar Alan says:

    Seems like this isn’t news. I’ve been told this all my life. I guess it’s just verifying what they suspected all along. I remember when I was about ten years old the doctor taking my dad off of red meat because he had heart trouble.

  5. avatar Nathan says:

    I can attest that beef fat/grease tastes utterly revolting, especially in any sizable amounts.

  6. avatar john says:

    damn, made me hungry looking at all that meat. lot more things have more adverse affect than meat,, the article also seems to suggest that processed meat,, bolongnies, salamis, bacons etc, are the biggest offenders…and i don’t think you needed a study to tell you that..

  7. avatar Mike says:

    I haven’t had red meat in years.

  8. avatar Salle says:

    Meat Is the New Tobacco:
    Animal products kill a lot more Americans than tobacco does. Here’s why.

    http://www.alternet.org/story/154532/meat_is_the_new_tobacco

  9. avatar Salle says:

    Pink Slime and Mad Cow Just the Tip of the Iceberg

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/30-5

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey