Eating Meat “Causes” Increased Risk of Death – DO NOT MAKE ME LAUGH

Red meat & mortality & the usual bad science

This is a great explication by Zoe Harcombe of the article in Archives of Internal Medicine released March 12 reporting the teeny association between eating meat and premature death. Skip the numbers if you want. The “meat” of her summary is in the first 2 points:

“1) This study can at best suggest an observed relationship, or association. To make allegations about causation and risk is ignorant and erroneous.

2) The numbers are very small. The overall risk of dying was not even one person in a hundred over a 28 year study. If the death rate is very small, a possible slightly higher death rate in certain circumstances is still very small. It does not warrant a scare-tactic, 13% greater risk of dying headline – this is ‘science’ at its worst.”

If you are so inclined, also read the rant on Gary Taubes’ blog post, Science, Pseudoscience, Nutritional Epidemiology and Meat

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4 thoughts on “Eating Meat “Causes” Increased Risk of Death – DO NOT MAKE ME LAUGH

  1. Hi Jan! All of this hurts my head. I especially liked Gary Taubes’ post, and from that link read his post “Is Sugar Toxic” which I equally enjoyed. I recently (in the past few months) have cut back on red meat — not because I was worried about red meat, per se, but because of the increased availability of delicious flash-frozen fish which I love.

    Each week we hear about a new research study “proving” some food or another to be good or bad for us…..what to believe?? I try to listen to my own body. If I eat too much fatty food, my entire abdomen swells up and I’m in pain for a couple of hours. Is it my liver or gall bladder?? So I rarely eat anything fried or fatty. I severely limit my intake of dairy fat, although I do eat whole eggs and never seem to have a problem with the yolks. I recently had a complete physical and my physician contacted me to tell me how outstanding my results were. Despite all of that, I’m still at least 40 pounds overweight. Sigh…..

  2. Hi Marisal! First of all I would say no research “proves” anything without a true experiment. This study was simply an observation but was headlines in the NY Times and elswhere. Such a study can only show associations, which could come from other factors. These types of studies can be helpful in generating evidence for an experiment or an hypothesis, but they cannot prove anything. (Association does not equal causation.)

    Secondly, it’s good that your results (I’m assuming lab work, too) were outstanding. One can be fat and fit. If your lab results were all normal, it doesn’t sound like you have fatty liver disease. But, that abdominal pain after fatty food makes me wonder about your gall bladder. Have you had an ultrasound?

    I detect some frustration with your weight. I will sigh with you because I have regained some since the first of year. It is so much easier to gain than to lose! Will post more on this and my attempts to get my groove back. It’s been a tough 3 months.

    • Jan, if you decide to go back into practice, will you be my doctor? My GP is very nice, but no longer up to date on anything. The practice she is in just merged with a huge Chicagoland group, and everything is such a mess. I need to find a new physician. I have not had an ultrasound for my gall bladder. As long as I stay away from fried and other very fatty foods, or have things of this type in very tiny quantities, I avoid trouble. I’d like to find another doctor before I have anymore tests.

      I am less frustrated with my weight that I am annoyed with myself for not getting more proactive sooner about my breathing and that horrible sciatica pain I had. I stupidly thought both conditions would improve and I would be back in my groove again. I was only 3 pounds up at that point. I think I am finally back on the right track and I hope to post about it soon. Hope you are doing okay. Loved that photo of your new camper.

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