Red Meat and Processed Meats Not As Bad As You Think

New studies point to a drastic reduction of elimination of red and processed meats from your diet is not necessary.

With a sharp increase in popularity in vegetarianism, veganism, and all sorts of raw diets, the dreaded monster known as red meat has become something to be shunned. Even people that consume meat have been warned for years to limit their red meat consumption and even more so their processed meats consumption. But what if some of the “science” behind this reasoning was more bias than fact?

Recent studies published in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine seem to turn the red meat and processed meats will kill your adage on its head. The article titled Meat Consumption and Health: Food For Thought, states that “the field of nutritional epidemiology is plagued by observational studies that have conducted inappropriate analyses, accompanied by likely erroneous conclusions.”

This article critiques former reviews of red meat and processed meats for including health risks associated with consuming such foods that other reviews do not, even though they are all using the same data sets. Such reviews using terms such as red meat is “probably carcinogenic” and “could” lead to colon cancer are problematic.

A recent study titled Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations from the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium suggested in its findings that the nutritional panelists voted on recommending adults 18 years of age and older should continue their regular consumption of red meat and processed meats.

Their findings included the following:

The rationale for our recommendation to continue rather than reduce consumption of unprocessed red meat or processed meat is based on the following factors. First, the certainty of evidence for the potential adverse health outcomes associated with meat consumption was low to very low, supported by the similar effect estimates for red meat and processed meat consumption from dietary pattern studies as from studies directly addressing red meat and processed meat intake. Second, there was a very small and often trivial absolute risk reduction based on a realistic decrease of 3 servings of red or processed meat per week. Third, if the very small exposure effect is true, given peoples’ attachment to their meat-based diet, the associated risk reduction is not likely to provide sufficient motivation to reduce consumption of red meat or processed meat in fully informed individuals, and the weak, rather than strong, recommendation is based on the large variability in peoples’ values and preferences related to meat.

Finally, the panel focused exclusively on health outcomes associated with meat and did not consider animal welfare and environmental issues. Taken together, these observations warrant a weak recommendation to continue current levels of red meat and processed meat consumption.





By: Alexandra Addesso

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