This Should Scare the Meat Out of You

We’ve heard it all before. We’ve read it a million times, and now we’re sick of it. We’ve all had it up to here about why we shouldn’t eat red meat. You did hear about the recent study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine — the one in which researchers followed half million people for ten years. Oh, you missed that one?

It involved 322,263 men, and 223,390 women ages 50 to 71. That’s my demographic — and the single largest demographic in the US. Maybe it’s your demographic, too. Or your parents’ or grandparents’ (if you’re really young). Ever wonder why we Baby Boomers are experiencing such high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer?

One answer is red meat. Hamburgers. Steaks. Hot dogs. Italian beef. Chili. Stew. Roasts. Even bologna. As a nation, we love red meat — so much so that we’re eating twice as much red meat today as people did 50 years ago.

Americans love our meat.

Americans love our meat. Photo: © Jaimie Duplass-Fotolia.com

Is it just because of good marketing? Is it because we’re all gluttons, having  “Super-Sized” our diets and our waists? Look around. See anyone who’s overweight? Ask them what they ate today. Could be they had a meat appetizer, meat on their salad, a bacon wrapped triple burger or a meat-lover’s pizza. We consume meat like we’re addicted to it.

Meat Intake and Mortality, a research study directed by Rashmi Sinha, followed people who ate between one to four ounces of meat a day. After 10 years, researchers reported a 20 to 40 percent increase in mortality — considered a “modest” increase by study reviewers — among subjects who ate the most red and processed meat. Maybe 20 percent higher could be called modest, but a 40 percent increase is huge, in my mind. And if you or a loved one count among the 20 percent, there’s nothing modest about such numbers.

If you apply these figures over the whole U.S. population, we could prevent the deaths of 1 million men and half a million women every decade. Perhaps you’re young enough to be thinking, Those old people are going to die soon anyway.

To that I say, If this trend continues, young people will be affected much earlier in your lives and your mortality will be even greater. And that’s not me eating sour grapes. It’s a scary fact: Red meat can kill you.

Interestingly, white meats (poultry and fish) don’t seem to have the same effect. The study revealed an “inverse association” between death rate and consumption of white meat. So, if you’re determined to eat meat, it seems that white meat is the safer bet.

Want to get the full scoop? Read the study at The Archives of Internal Medicine website (be aware though, there’s a fee for downloading the study). If you’re a red-meat lover, the results should scare the meat out of you.

Joe Hennager

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)