Recent study concludes evidence against red meat is weak

Man holding fork and knife while eating steakRed meat remains the main villain in food epidemiology. Whatever disease, health condition or cause of death you choose, there are teams of researchers who are just eager to link it to how much red meat you eat. meat as the leading cause of death, disease and climate collapse.

That’s why I was surprised to read the conclusion of the latest in a long series of red meat studies: the evidence against red meat is actually quite weak and even non-existent.

What did the study examine when it comes to red meat?

The funniest thing about this latest study is that they had to admit they couldn’t find strong evidence of a link between raw red meat intake and six health outcomes, though they clearly hoped so. Here are the health outcomes they looked at:

  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • ischemic stroke
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke
  • breast cancer

They combined dozens of different cohorts into one massive cohort for each health outcome, using studies from around the world to extract the data. Other studies have obviously done the same thing, but this one tried to do something different: assess the “strength” of the evidence in favor of red meat causing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and everything else using a new tool called The Burden of Evidence. . The very first sentence of the abstract states that they view red meat as a ‘risk factor’. They’ve already figured it out. Now they just want to find out how strong the evidence is.

It turns out that the evidence is very poor. For colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and ischemic heart disease, evidence of an association with red meat intake is “weak.For hemorrhagic stroke and ischemic stroke, the evidence is not present.

And yet these are the ones that everyone always focuses on. To search pubmed yourself and you will find that there are thousands of studies looking for the links between red meat intake and colon cancer, diabetes, stroke, breast cancer and heart disease.

Now they are still convinced that red meat is bad. They say a red meat intake of zero grams per day is probably ideal for health, but there isn’t enough evidence to actually recommend or prescribe it to people. “We all know that “red meat is pretty unhealthy, but we can’t really recommend that officially… yet. The evidence just isn’t there.

That is the subtext of the paper.

Many pro-meat people shared this on social media, very happy that they couldn’t find any strong evidence against red meat ingestion. I don’t think it goes far enough. I think it’s still too hard for red meat. “Weak evidence” is not correct. It’s too friendly. The proof is: terrible and I suspect that if you consider all the relevant variables, it actually points in the opposite direction: in the direction of benefits.

But you never get that with a typical meta-study.

Disadvantages of meta-studies

You lose granularity when you combine data from hundreds of cohorts from time and space into one large cohort and try to make connections between red meat intake and various diseases. In nutrition and disease and biology, granularity is: everything. The small details are important. It’s not just “red meat intake.” It’s everything else. It’s calcium intake. It is what kind of oils are used. It is carbohydrate intake. It is the total fat intake. It’s body weight. It’s whether you lift weights or not. Whether you smoke or drink. It is ethnicity, culture and cuisine. It is the whole way of eating, not just one single part of a broad diet.

No one in epidemiology takes all these factors into account. I don’t blame them at all, because that would make an epidemiological document incredibly impractical. Probably wouldn’t work – which is exactly why these papers don’t tell us much at all.

So what’s my problem with this particular paper?

I won’t go through every part of the paper. I’ll check out their section on colorectal cancer. As they characterize it, they found “weak evidence of harmful associations between raw red meat consumption and colorectal cancer risk” after reviewing data from 20 different studies on the topic. Results “varied”. The studies were ‘inconclusive’ and ‘disagree’. And that’s it?

No, you go deeper. You look at individual studies to understand why they disagree.

Why, for example, did the study they cite in Finnish men show that a high intake of red meat combined with a high intake of dairy protective against colon cancer? In other words, the people who ate more red meat and dairy in this Finnish male cohort had the lowest rates of colorectal cancer. Isn’t that interesting for the authors of this new meta-study? Doesn’t it pique their curiosity about the effect of dairy combined with red meat on colon cancer – at least enough to include dairy as one of the variables they controlled for when looking at the broader data?

Of course not. The only additional variables they adjusted for were BMI, energy intake, and fruit and vegetable intake. The Finnish data is simply “more data” to be put into the collective cohort.

You also look at studies that they didn’t include, studies that they couldn’t include — like randomized controlled trials — because they were outside the scope of the study. Like this one, who discovered that when you add extra dairy to the diet of living, breathing people, their gut environment becomes less carcinogenic. That is an immediate effect. A causal one. And it doesn’t appear at all in the conclusions of the meta-study.

Some might say that this is just one example of something they missed. I’m saying it’s not “just” something. It is a huge factor that questions the and the rest of their conclusions.

Bottom Line

Ignore these investigations. They can be interesting for generating hypotheses, but they don’t provide answers. It comes down to what it always comes down to: What do you personally get out of eating red meat?

Did eating more red meat improve your health, performance, cognitive function, body composition, culinary enjoyment, and overall life satisfaction? Or has it worsened? What else matters?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Be careful.

Primal Kitchen Hollandaise

About the author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather of the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the… New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is also the author of numerous other books, including: The original blueprintwhich in 2009 had given a boost to the growth of the primal/paleo movement. After spending three decades researching and educating people about why food is the most important component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that makes Primal/Paleo, Keto and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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