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Meat consumption and mortality

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 07, 2013 at 5:24 PM

New study in BMC Medicine:

"Meat consumption and mortality - results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition"

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/11/63/abstract

from the abstract: "higher all-cause mortality remained significant only for processed meat"

though later in the paper, they discuss the inclusion of any meat into the diet: "The drawback, however, is the high content of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids, both of which have been shown to be positively associated with plasma low density lipoprotein (LDL) concentrations and the risk of coronary heart disease [2]."

where [2] is Mozaffarian D, Micha R, Wallace S: Effects on coronary heart disease of increasing polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS Med 2010, 7:e1000252.

This seems contradictory to the conclusion presented in the abstract, right? Loren Cordain also drew the opposite conclusion from [2]. He writes:

"Actually, the most recent comprehensive meta analyses do not show fresh meat consumption whether fat or lean to be a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (20-25), only processed meats such as salami, bologna, bacon and sausages (20)."

http://paleohacks.com/questions/43451/have-you-seen-dr-cordains-rebuttal#axzz2Mml2gzA5

I guess my question is, how does the direct claim that high cholesterol and SFA in meat causes CHD make it through peer review? Is this just dogma, or is there really some direct evidence that I've missed?

Another note: a similar PH question (and some good answers) about one of the studies considered in the meta-analysis is here:

http://paleohacks.com/questions/104557/recent-longitudinal-study-red-meat-and-higher-mortality#axzz2Mml2gzA5

165202196ea111b32114ef2804a7dd94

(174)

on March 08, 2013
at 02:48 PM

Some researchers don't even know the difference between grass-fed/grain fed meats. They generally think that it's all the same. It's pretty sad. On the other hand if they do they might have used regular (supermarket) meat and processed meat, because that's the type that the majority of residents eat. Most of the people I know that study nutrition are vegan so if these are going to be future researchers, the articles will keep getting ugly.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 08, 2013
at 12:24 AM

I was reading up on smoked meats this morning, and came across the Hungarian study showing higher stomach cancer rates for smoked meat eaters. So I think that "higher all-cause mortality" nails it. Processed meats are implicated in both CVD and GI cancers of all kinds.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on March 07, 2013
at 09:57 PM

You can even buy pork belly and cure it yourself in the fridge. It's easy and tastes great! I made this one: http://jensgonepaleo.blogspot.com/2011/11/homemade-bacon.html

6864d23c49952605b2a97d6256af804d

(726)

on March 07, 2013
at 09:41 PM

Nice analysis, thanks, I'd missed the increase at low levels of red meat, which is clearly important and underemphasized.

6864d23c49952605b2a97d6256af804d

(726)

on March 07, 2013
at 09:36 PM

Ha, yeah, it's a meta-analysis of those monthly reports in the journal of meat-hate

6864d23c49952605b2a97d6256af804d

(726)

on March 07, 2013
at 07:11 PM

I've never uttered the words 'tastier than bacon', though the Greek preparation sounds delightful. Red-braised pork belly was apparently chairman Mao's favorite dish, and the recipes for it in Fuchsia Dunlop's cookbooks make me question my unwavering allegiance to the bacon gods.

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on March 07, 2013
at 06:55 PM

Pork belly is tastier than bacon. You just haven't cooked it Greek style yet.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 07, 2013
at 06:15 PM

You can tell one somebody is full of it when they claim pork belly is tastier than bacon.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on March 07, 2013
at 06:04 PM

that sounds so yummy!

Medium avatar

(39831)

on March 07, 2013
at 05:58 PM

Strong username to post content correlation.

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5 Answers

3
3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on March 07, 2013
at 05:34 PM

I don't think that the study is wrong, in fact, it's in accordance with Paleo: avoid processed food. The study attacked processed meats, not all meats. We should be avoiding processed meats (e.g. hot dogs, processed sausages). We should eat a bit of gourmet dry meats on occasion only. It's common sense, I think.

But when it comes to bacon, as I wrote elsewhere on the topic, "which bacon", matters. UNCURED bacon is probably better than cured bacon (not all the times, depending on the brand, but probably most of the times).

But there's an even better option than bacon: buy pork belly, and cut the slices yourself (or ask your butcher to do so). Pork belly is the real bacon, fully unprocessed. As it's supposed to be, and as we're supposed to be consuming it. Add some lemon, oregano, salt & pepper while you're frying it (that's how we consume it in Greece), and it should be many times better for health than cured/uncured bacon, and more tasty too!

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on March 07, 2013
at 09:57 PM

You can even buy pork belly and cure it yourself in the fridge. It's easy and tastes great! I made this one: http://jensgonepaleo.blogspot.com/2011/11/homemade-bacon.html

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 07, 2013
at 06:15 PM

You can tell one somebody is full of it when they claim pork belly is tastier than bacon.

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on March 07, 2013
at 06:55 PM

Pork belly is tastier than bacon. You just haven't cooked it Greek style yet.

6864d23c49952605b2a97d6256af804d

(726)

on March 07, 2013
at 07:11 PM

I've never uttered the words 'tastier than bacon', though the Greek preparation sounds delightful. Red-braised pork belly was apparently chairman Mao's favorite dish, and the recipes for it in Fuchsia Dunlop's cookbooks make me question my unwavering allegiance to the bacon gods.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on March 07, 2013
at 06:04 PM

that sounds so yummy!

1
E253f8ac1d139bf4d0bfb44debd1db21

on March 07, 2013
at 09:59 PM

Processed meat is not paleo so why is it so surprising when research comes out showing it has adverse health effects?

1
3d58b5fb4f9780e2f47d4dcc53338a5a

(2771)

on March 07, 2013
at 08:51 PM

I skimmed over the study and I'm sure some of the paleo medical researchers will do a fine job of picking it apart, but I did have a few observations.

The first is that this is a meta-analysis (cohort study) of observational information. This means that this is compiling other people's research where they ask participants questions. You are asking people to recall how many grams of meat they've eaten over the last year. If you ask a health conscious typical American, they will underreport meat consumption (because meat is bad and they're being healthy). Ask a typical non-health conscious American and they'll probably over-estimate their meat consumption ("No granola crunching health nut is going to tell me how to eat! Hand me another beer!"). And, of course, the paleo crowd will probably over-estimate meat consumption as well, just as a matter of pride. Asking someone to recall how much they ate and what they ate is always problematic, but we'll have to overlook that for now.

The threshold that they used for meat consumption that caused the issues was 160+ grams a day. I know that a lot of us eat that much here, but think about your typical Western diet and how they're getting their meat. Their hamburger is covered with soyoil based mayo, bread bun and canola oil soaked fries with extra salt. Their processed pepperoni is served on top of a pizza, or maybe on a cold cut sandwich. They did NOT take into account total calories consumed. Was it 160 grams of meat and 500 grams of soda and cookies on top of that?

The next issues is what the findings actually showed. There didn't seem to be too much difference in the diets unless you talked about processed meats. Us paleos will eat our bacon and cured meats in way larger quantities than most, but we also eat our veggies and don't put the meat with bad for us foods (our definition of bad for us). Also of note, there was an INCREASE for those that hardly ate any red meat (calling it a J curve, meaning very low levels also cause an increase).

This kind of study shows up ever few years and sets back our health progress again. The only way to combat this kind of pandering to the grain/vegetarian/people who give grants crowds out there is to keep doing what we're doing until it can't be ignored.

6864d23c49952605b2a97d6256af804d

(726)

on March 07, 2013
at 09:41 PM

Nice analysis, thanks, I'd missed the increase at low levels of red meat, which is clearly important and underemphasized.

0
89985542ffc00c296552951369fe809a

on March 08, 2013
at 03:43 AM

I HATE when studies like this do not specify the TYPE OF MEAT... Grass-fed/finished meats are EXTREMELY healthy and will actually REDUCE your risk of mortality.

Processed sausages, corn-fed meat, etc... Now those will increased mortality risk.

165202196ea111b32114ef2804a7dd94

(174)

on March 08, 2013
at 02:48 PM

Some researchers don't even know the difference between grass-fed/grain fed meats. They generally think that it's all the same. It's pretty sad. On the other hand if they do they might have used regular (supermarket) meat and processed meat, because that's the type that the majority of residents eat. Most of the people I know that study nutrition are vegan so if these are going to be future researchers, the articles will keep getting ugly.

0
7cf9f5b08a41ecf2a2d2bc0b31ea6fa0

on March 07, 2013
at 09:03 PM

This same study seems to come out every other month

6864d23c49952605b2a97d6256af804d

(726)

on March 07, 2013
at 09:36 PM

Ha, yeah, it's a meta-analysis of those monthly reports in the journal of meat-hate

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