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  • "The Health Risks vs. Benefits of Meat Consumption"

  • A series of papers published in the Annals of Internal Medicine

  • that largely discounted all but the highest quality randomized studies

  • reached a conclusion directly contrary to the public health advice

  • we've heard for years. They suggested that we should

  • continue our current consumption of both red and processed meat.

  • The authors based their exclusion of evidence on the so-called GRADE

  • criteria, which were mainly developed for evaluating evidence from drug trials.

  • We need randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trials for drugs,

  • but strictness of these criteria would probably cause evidence for just about

  • every dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factor related

  • to chronic disease to be graded as "low" or "very low" evidence.

  • If the GRADE criteria were used to evaluate the evidence

  • for other factors related to diet, such as inadequate fruits

  • and vegetables or too much soda or alcohol,

  • or whether or not exercise is good, or safe sex,

  • or sleep, smoking, air pollution,

  • none of the current recommendations on these issues would be supported

  • by high- or even moderate-quality evidence using the drug trial criteria.

  • But even after ignoring major parts of the available evidence,

  • they still found an association between meat intake

  • and an increased risk of cancer. And not just cancer.

  • They found that adherence to dietary patterns lower in red or processed meat

  • intake may result in a decreased risk for premature death, cardiometabolic

  • disease and mortality, meaning the risk of getting and dying of diseases

  • like heart disease and type 2 diabetes,

  • as well as the risk of getting cancer and dying from cancer.

  • Yet, they still concluded in their dietary guideline recommendations:

  • continue your current red meat consumption,

  • continue your processed meat consumption.

  • Forget the whole premature death thing, cancer, heart disease, diabetes

  • just keep eating your burgers and bacon.

  • So you have these dietary guidelines developed by some self-appointed panel

  • that are tantamount to promoting meat consumption,

  • despite their own findings that high consumption is harmful to health.

  • How did they square that,

  • contradicting the evidence generated from their own meta-analyses?

  • There's only one body of evidence.

  • They found the same risk that all the other reviews found.

  • So they're not saying meat is less risky; they're just saying

  • the risk is acceptable. Well, you do have to consider the risk and benefits.

  • Well, we've covered the harms.

  • Their own data show that a moderate reduction in red and processed meat

  • consumption can reduce total mortality by 13%, heart disease mortality by 14%,

  • cancer mortality by 11%, and type 2 diabetes risk by 24%.

  • What are the benefits? In short, omnivores enjoy eating meat.

  • Uh, okay...

  • Given peoples' attachment to their meat-based diet,

  • the associated risk reduction in our leading killers, like cancer,

  • heart disease, diabetes, is not likely to provide sufficient motivation

  • to reduce consumption of red meat or processed meat.

  • So therefore, eat up!

  • In fact, they even say straight out that unlike the other dietary guidelines

  • suggesting we limit consumption of stuff because of like the cancer thing,

  • these other guidelines have paid little or no attention to the reasons

  • people eat meat,

  • whereas they did a systematic review of preferences regarding meat

  • consumption, and people who eat meat enjoy eating meat.

  • Maybe that's even why they do it.

  • They're generally unwilling to change their meat consumption,

  • even in response to health concerns, so the panel believed

  • the panel, you'll remember, with generous support of a group

  • getting millions every year from the meat industry

  • the panel believed that for the majority of individuals,

  • the desirable effects, like lowering your risk

  • of family-devastating cancer and heart attacks

  • associated with reducing meat consumption probably do not outweigh

  • the undesirable effects, like having to give up all that yummy meat.

  • This is what led them to make their recommendation

  • to "continue current consumption."

  • That sounds like something straight of the journal, Meat Science.

  • Why should we keep eating red meat? Because of the enjoyment.

  • People also like to smoke.

  • They like to drink soda. They like to have unsafe sex.

  • It's kind of like saying we know motorcycle helmets can save lives,

  • but some people still prefer the feeling of the wind in their hair.

  • So let's just tell people to not wear helmets?

  • But you'll actually see this argument.

  • Complying with dietary recommendations imposes a "taste cost" on consumers,

  • so how about socially desirable dietary recommendations

  • that are most compatible with consumer preferences,

  • you know, that best balance health benefits against "taste cost."

  • So like hey, even if science told us that eating butter is unhealthy,

  • its taste justifies the continuation of using it.

  • What do you expect from NutriRECS, the meat-industry-partnered panel

  • that also published the paper criticizing the sugar guidelines,

  • funded by the soda and candy industries?

  • They aim to produce nutritional guideline recommendations

  • based on the preferences of patients.

  • So what's next? Just telling people to eat doughnuts and ice cream all day?

  • Yet the Annals published the meat papers with a press release saying,

  • "No need to reduce red or processed meat consumption for good health."

  • Using the same methodology and rationale,

  • they might as well have said,

  • "No need to quit smoking for good health" or

  • "No need to exercise for good health."

  • As Dr. Katz, Director of Yale's Prevention Research Center put it,

  • "Guidelines opposing the very data on which they purport to be based

  • are not science; they are anti-science."

"The Health Risks vs. Benefits of Meat Consumption"

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B1 US meat consumption dietary cancer risk evidence

The Health Risks vs. Benefits of Meat Consumption

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    Yui posted on 2022/07/29
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