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Study provides some meaty questions
If you’ve been paying attention to health news lately, you would have seen a media frenzy surrounding a recent study that showed an increase risk of death from eating red meat.
Pretty serious stuff, considering this study seems to spell bad news for anyone who eats at least one serving of meat per week.
The authors of Red Meat Consumption and Mortality reported that a single serving of processed read meat (lunch meats, hot dogs etc.) per week seemed to increase risk of death 20% while unprocessed meat raised the risk of death 13%.
The most interesting observation from the study was that red meat consumption appeared to increased risk of death from all causes, not just diseases typically associated with diet, such as heart disease and colon cancer.
Now before everyone runs out and starts buying the tofu meatloaf, it is important to know that when it comes to studies like this one, there is usually a large gap between media sensationalism and scientific fact.
First, if one takes the time to actually read the study, you will find that the conclusions are largely based on observations and not experiments. Participants in the study were asked to fill out nutrition questionnaires once every four years between 1980 and 2006, estimating how many times a week would they consume meat, fruit, vegetables etc.
Now I don’t know about you, but I can barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday, let alone the last four years. Also, the questions did not account for portion size or quality of product. Common sense would dictate that this might not be the most accurate way to collect data.
Second, it would appear that the participants in the study were not properly selected. For example, those that ate less meat, often smoked less, drank less, and exercised more than their meat-eating counterparts.
This would certainly explain why the meat-eating group also had higher risk of death from diseases typically not associated with diet, like lung cancer.
Of course these details never make the nightly news story, which often leads to sensational headlines. The lead researcher, Frank Hu, was even quoted as saying: "(the study) provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death."
Actually, it doesn’t provide any evidence whatsoever. This study is a collection of poorly designed questionnaires and editorialized observations that make a great starting point, but currently hold no value until they are studied further.
The fact is, pasture raised, grass-fed beef is vastly different than factory raised, grain-fed, feedlot hot dogs and to ignore this fact ignores previous studies and observations of many healthy, meat-eating cultures all over the world.
To state that all red meat consumption is deadly, regardless of quality or source, is simply incorrect. Next time I will cover the health benefits of eating red meat and explore the reasons why it has gotten such a bad reputation.
Dr. Christian Chatzoglou, D.C. is a chiropractor, writer and natural health expert.
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(1 of 5 articles for this week)05/22/2013 1:00 AM 0
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