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Bad week for understanding red meat risk

October 12, 2019

This past 2 weeks, a major publication in a major medical journal from reputable Canadian, and  multi-national authors) (https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2752328/unprocessed-red-meat-processed-meat-consumption-dietary-guideline-recommendations-from) suggested that the evidence for red meat being bad for you is weak.  They recommend not adjusting your red meat intake.

Some important points:

1)The data used to reach these conclusions is weak (as is the same data that led to the conclusion that meat is bad for you)

2)There is controversy about the data and the methods used to reach these recent conclusions

3)These conclusions are significantly different from a number of other expert groups, organizations and committees

4)One of the lead authors may have had links with industry - not sure if these links are important or should have been disclosed

5)A spokesperson for Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition, said, "from a public health point of view, it is irresponsible and unethical to issue dietary guidelines that are tantamount to promoting meat consumption, even if there is still some uncertainty about the strength of the evidence.”

6)One of the main criticisms has been the failure of the new article to address issues of climate change, food sustainability related to red meat, and ethical concerns - but the paper was mainly looking at the effect of meat on death, and especially colorectal cancer.

For further reading try the following reviews:

i)Leslie Beck - dietitian at MedCan, Toronto - https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/article-to-meat-or-not-to-meat-heres-how-good-or-bad-is-a-carnivorous-diet/?utm_source=Shared+Article+Sent+to+User&utm_medium=E-mail:+Newsletters+/+E-Blasts+/+etc.&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links

ii)A NZ professor of health epidemiology - https://www.odt.co.nz/rural-life/red-meat/otago-professor-queries-results-red-meat-review

iii)A very smart neurologist who specializes in health literacy - https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-red-meat-controversy/

iv)another prominent and well-respected NZ researcher/professor - https://farmersweekly.co.nz/section/beef/view/red-meat-research-challenged-2

v)NY Times article discussing the Annals article - https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/30/health/red-meat-heart-cancer.html