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Guest ExperimentB76z

Red Meat Is Positively Lethal

130 posts in this topic

So says a US study.

Interesting. If you were cynical, you might think that red meat is probably the least sustainable food source in a world that is quickly becoming over populated, and that therefore, studies like this would be helpful in getting people to eat more sustainable produce without causing alarm. That's only if you were cynical, I suppose.

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Wait a minute. Saying processed red meat like hot dogs and bacon cause an increase in death I can buy. But that's about it.

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I like your attitude, Rob! Note that there is nothing written about grass fed beef, hmmm. Well, I suppose there is something in that for the cynic, too.

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Each additional daily serving of processed red meat, equivalent to one hot-dog or two rashers of bacon, raised the chances of dying by a fifth.

I'm confused, is the chance of dying somehow less than 100% for non meat-eaters?

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I'm confused, is the chance of dying somehow less than 100% for non meat-eaters?

Please, do not confuse the "researchers" with logic.
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correlation ≠ causation

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Doesnt matter, had beef lol. :D

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I may die early, but at least I'll be happy.

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The future of protein is insects, apparently. I'm not put off by this at all. In fact, if I could dig into bag of crickets for my snack at work - apparently they taste like pork scratching - without making my colleagues vomit, I think I probably would.

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Here's a link to the actual study:

http://bit.ly/xqYmCK

And here's a link to a fellow who does a pretty good reading of it (as opposed to the usual internet comments "who cares, when it's your time, it's time" and "who funded it???!!!")

http://www.bencoomber.com/1/post/2012/03/todays-news-13312-red-meat-death-the-facts.html

The somewhat disturbing thing is that researchers claim to have accounted for the obvious confounding factors in their analysis: Exercise levels, caloric intake, veggie consumption, fat profiles, etc:

"In multivariate analysis, we simultaneously controlled for intakes of total energy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables (all in quintiles) and for other potential nondietary confounding variables with updated information at each 2- or 4-year questionnaire cycle. These variables included age; body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) (<23.0, 23.0-24.9, 25.0-29.9, 30.0-34.9, or ge.gif35.0); race (white or nonwhite); smoking status (never, past, or current [1-14, 15-24, or ge.gif25 cigarettes per day]); alcohol intake (0, 0.1-4.9, 5.0-14.9, or ge.gif15.0 g/d in women; 0, 0.1-4.9, 5.0-29.9, or ge.gif30.0 g/d in men); physical activity level (<3.0, 3.0-8.9, 9.0-17.9, 18.0-26.9, or ge.gif27.0 hours of metabolic equivalent tasks per week); multivitamin use (yes or no); aspirin use (yes or no); family history of diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, or cancer; and baseline history of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, or hypercholesterolemia. In women, we also adjusted for postmenopausal status and menopausal hormone use."

My thoughts:

I really need to know more about how they controlled for all of those other factors. While they claim to have controlled for numerous confounding factors, they still only reported aggregate numbers. That is, they reported a single "hazard ratio as a function of meat intake" curve. They did not provide hazard/meat correlations for any sub-pools (people who are lean, people who exercise a lot, people who have "good bloodwork", people who eat a lot of veggies, etc). The thing is, any time you combine pools to get an aggregate number, the larger pools are going to dominate the effect, and as they admit in the paper, the high-meat pools tended to eat a lot of processed meats, eat more calories, smoke and drink more and exercise less, so the numbers for the high meat pool will be skewed in that direction once you combine the different sub-pools. That being said, this criticism is not proof in the opposite direction (that red meat consumption is no biggie if you eat your veggies, are lean and exercise a lot, etc) - somebody needs to do a proper study of those people. Which, of course, is hard, since there are so few people who consistently exercise and eat healthy for long periods of time.

But, the study is enough to give me some pause. It may not be enough for me to consider it as strong evidence that "people who eat a lot of unprocessed red meats with lots of vegetables and do a lot of exercise and are lean should cut out red meat", but it is enough for me to entertain the possibility. Maybe the bodybuilders are onto something with their eight chicken breasts a day....

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They can't be serious. LOL at j2times haha. Indeed man indeed.

I'll stick to meats and veggies. While other people consume the bullshit they recommend.

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Thanks for providing that individual's notes. It's interesting how the study breaks down as you go down the list. It would be interesting, as you mentioned, to see how the incident rates change for different segments of the population.

One thing, however, there is validity in the question, "who funded the study?"

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One thing, however, there is validity in the question, "who funded the study?"

There is some validity to that question, but I think that arguments should stand or fall on their own merits, not on who is making them. If we were to discredit all arguments from parties with an agenda, we'd pretty quickly end up in a situation where nobody could credibly argue for anything.

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Rob, I've eaten crickets. I don't advise it. At least not hung over.

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If you were cynical, you might think that red meat is probably the least sustainable food source in a world that is quickly becoming over populated...

That is a good point, though. Trying to feed 7 billion people 175 lbs of meat per year Western-style is clearly going to have major environmental impacts, over and above the considerable impact the meat industry is already generating.

It may not even be feasible. Already the majority of corn and soy grown worldwide goes to livestock, and about a third of the ice-free land surface on Earth is committed to livestock, more acreage of arable land is committed to livestock than growing plant food for humans, and the sector generates more pollution than transportation. 20% of the entire Earth's animal biomass is livestock.

Grass-fed beef is even more resource-intensive than factory-farmed in terms of acreage and water required, organic more intensive still.

Something has to give sooner or later.

--

Kevin

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That is a good point, though. Trying to feed 7 billion people 175 lbs of meat per year Western-style is clearly going to have major environmental impacts, over and above the considerable impact the meat industry is already generating.

It may not even be feasible. Already the majority of corn and soy grown worldwide goes to livestock, and about a third of the ice-free land surface on Earth is committed to livestock, more acreage of arable land is committed to livestock than growing plant food for humans, and the sector generates more pollution than transportation. 20% of the entire Earth's animal biomass is livestock.

Grass-fed beef is even more resource-intensive than factory-farmed in terms of acreage and water required, organic more intensive still.

Something has to give sooner or later.

--

Kevin

It's funny you mention that, as Mark from Mark's Daily Apple has just written up a 3 part series of articles dealing with the question he gets asked of "could the world live like this?" The general gist is that it's possible if it was done with:

- Better grazing methods for livestock (apparently rotating grazing areas for cows every now and then is better than just putting them in a field day after day - one guy has a method whereby his cows use up 5 times less land than other farmers in his area)

- People eating different cuts than we currently do (ie not just going for rib steaks etc)

- People eating organs

- People eating more veg

- People eating more starchy veg

This, of course, is biased towards getting people eating a diet devoid of grains, although he does allow for white rice to be eaten. Like he says, it'll probably never be done, but his arguments are, to me, quite compelling. You can read part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here.

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one guy has a method whereby his cows use up 5 times less land than other farmers in his area)

You're referring to Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms. Salatin is indeed succeeding at cramming more cattle onto the land he himself owns, but at the expense of requiring 1) greatly increased inputs of labor and 2) other inputs, such as copious grain, that originate from off his land. He also has the advantage of living in a climate zone that necessitates little irrigation of his pasture. But his cattle don't really use up much less land than factory-farmed cattle, not when you factor in the off-farm inputs. Even worse, very little of the land that is presently used as cattle range would be productive using his techniques without massive inputs of both labor and water.

There's a lot to like about Salatin's methods (I particularly like his "stacking" technique which mimics a natural, diverse ecosystem) but the economics are inescapable. His methods are expensive, as is any method of making meat more sustainable. This is because the cheap meat we eat today is cheap only due to massive subsidy and externalization of costs, and it rightly ought to cost more if we factor those ignored costs in. Sustainability ends up realizing those costs that less sustainable producers shrug off onto others. Ultimately, sustainable meat is more expensive meat, which means eating less of it. QED.

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I would be somewhat alright with the petri dish idea. But it's also extremely expensive and won't be hitting the scene for a long time.

What the Japanese are doing... Kinda gross.

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I heard about the petri dish beef. It's currently really thin, and it will be a while before they get it to the proper texture of beef.

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I've thought idly about genetically-engineered meat that takes a different tack. Basically, you engineer an organism to not have most of its brain or many of it's "optional" structures like most of the skeleton, fur, sensory organs, etc. The logical conclusion of factory farming, the units of production are only technically animals but look more like blobs, have no consciousness and are literally hooked up to a production line on controlled life support until they're harvested. Sort of like "The Matrix."

Something similar could be done to grow replacement organs for human transplant. Just enough "scaffolding" to grow a genetically identical liver destined for a particular patient, for example.

I find it amusing that when I describe this idea to people, they usually either complain about "ick" factor or they raise various ethics concerns. I fail to understand what they find less disgusting or more ethical about our current system of mass-producing meat.

--

Kevin

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KFC already does that.... ... why else would they stop calling themselves "Kentucky Fried Chicken"?

B)

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