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  • "How Much Does Meat Affect Longevity?"

  • According to the Global Burden of Disease Study,

  • diets high in processed meat, like bacon, ham, hot dogs,

  • lunch meat, sausage, may kill off more than

  • 100,000 people every year, mostly due to heart disease,

  • but also cancer and diabetes, resulting in millions

  • of healthy years of life lost every year around the world.

  • And it doesn't take much. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated

  • that if Americans could cut down to an ounce a week,

  • thousands of annual cancer deaths could be averted.

  • But that's on a population scale. How can we better understand

  • our individual risk?

  • Though the NutriRECS panel in the Annals of Internal Medicine

  • meat papers I've done the last few videos about,

  • discarded their own findings, using their numbers, a reduction

  • in red and processed meat consumption is associated

  • with a 13% lower risk of premature death.

  • What exactly does that mean?

  • Like what does a 13% increased risk of death mean?

  • To get a better handle on it, let me introduce the concept of microlives.

  • Acute risks, such as riding a motorbike or going skydiving,

  • may result in an accident.

  • A good way to compare such risks is with a unit known as a Micromort,

  • defined as a 1-in-a-million chance of sudden death.

  • I did a really fascinating video about it recently.

  • However many risks we take don't kill you straight away.

  • Think of all the lifestyle frailties we get warned about,

  • such as smoking, drinking, eating badly, not exercising, and so on.

  • So the microlife aims to make all these chronic risks comparable

  • by showing how much life we lose on average when we're exposed to them.

  • A microlife is defined as 30 minutes of your life expectancy.

  • Why is that?

  • Well, someone in their 20s, a 22-year old man or a 26-year old woman,

  • may have, on average, about 57 years left.

  • That's about 20,000 days, or 500,000 hours, or a million half hours.

  • Aha! So that's how they define a microlife:

  • a reduction of one of the million half hours we may have left.

  • Here are some things that would, on average,

  • cost a 30-year-old man one microlife.

  • Smoking two cigarettes, drinking two pints of beer,

  • or every day they live 11 pounds overweight.

  • See how helpful this can be in terms of comparing risks.

  • So drinking a pint of strong beer cuts your life expectancy short

  • as much as smoking one cigarette.

  • If it's unthinkable to you to have so little respect for your own health

  • that you'd light up twice a day, maybe one cigarette in the morning

  • and one at night, then it should be just as unthinkable

  • being 11 pounds overweight.

  • Alternately you can compare life-extending behavior.

  • For example, eating at least five servings of fruits and veggies a day

  • may add an average of four years onto your lifespan for men

  • and three years for women.

  • That's up to twice as beneficial as exercising every day.

  • But check it out. Exercise for 20 minutes,

  • and you add an hour to your life, two microlives.

  • So for all those who say they don't have time to exercise,

  • it's like a 3 to 1 return on investment.

  • Give 20 minutes of your life to get 60 minutes of life.

  • Beyond that, there's a bit of diminishing returns, but

  • exercise an hour a day and get back more time than you put in.

  • Okay, so what about the meat?

  • Each burger is associated with the loss of a microlife.

  • So it's as if each burger were taking 30 minutes off your life.

  • So lifespan-wise, one burger appears equal to two cigarettes.

  • If it wouldn't occur to you to light up at lunch,

  • maybe you should choose the bean burrito instead.

  • And processed meat is even worse.

  • There's a couple of equivalent ways you could say it.

  • Imagine two people who are identical in every way,

  • except that one eats around 50 grams of processed meat a day,

  • which is like one large sausage or hot dog, or a few strips of bacon,

  • and the other eats none.

  • Eating that single serving of processed meat every day

  • is expected to take about two years off the length of your life.

  • Two years less with your loved ones, your grandkids,

  • your spouse, two more years of mourning.

  • Or you could think about it on a day-to-day basis.

  • Eating a baloney or ham sandwich every day,

  • just two slices of deli meat,

  • is expected to take around one hour off your life each day.

  • Don't think there's ever enough hours in the day?

  • Well, you may have effectively one less

  • depending on what you pack for lunch.

  • Alternatively, you could think about it in terms of "effective age."

  • Eating 50 grams of processed meat a day is expected to add around

  • two years onto your "effective age," meaning basically give you

  • the annual chance of dying of someone two years older.

  • In summary, wrote the chair of Nutrition at Harvard and colleagues,

  • the NutriRECS meat recommendations suffer from

  • important methodological limitations and involve

  • misinterpretations of nutritional evidence.

  • To improve human - and planetary health as a side bonus -

  • dietary guidelines should continue to emphasize dietary patterns

  • low in red and processed meats, and high in minimally processed

  • plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes -

  • beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils.

  • Let me end with a quote from Dr. Dean Ornish

  • about the Annals meat papers that suggested people should

  • continue to eat meat with abandon.

  • His Lifestyle Heart Trial was one of the many studies

  • the meat panel ignored. It showed that a plant-based diet

  • and lifestyle program could reverse the progression

  • of even severe coronary heart disease,

  • the #1 killer of men and women.

  • The control group actually made modest reductions in meat

  • comparable to those in the Annals review

  • and showed continued worsening of their atherosclerosis.

  • "I take solace," Ornish said, "in knowing that the light

  • "drives out the darkness.

  • "But, these days, the light has to be very bright indeed.

  • "Caveat emptor. Don't be fooled.

  • "Your life may depend on it."

"How Much Does Meat Affect Longevity?"

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How Much Does Meat Affect Longevity?

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    Yui posted on 2022/08/03
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