Huge Study shows Red Meat and Processed Meat linked to Cancer and Heart Disease. Now we know what killed the “Where’s the Beef” Lady…


The results from a huge prospective cohort study involving 448,568 men and women, meat consumption, and incidence of cancer and heart disease were recently published in BMC Medicine.  The study, called the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), evaluated male and female meat-eating habits in 10 different countries (France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Greece, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark).


  The study categorized meat into red, processed and poultry.  Red was defined as beef, pork, lamb, horse and goat.  Processed meat included all meat products, ham, sausages, and anything that was purchased as a ready-to-eat product. White meat included chicken, hen, turkey, duck and goose.

Results show that those who ate the most red meat ( defined as red meat consumption greater than 160 grams per day) had a 37%  increase in mortality (death) compared to those eating little meat, or within the 10 to 19.9 g/day.  Those who ate a high amount ( greater than 160 grams/day) of PROCESSED meat had a 44% increase in mortality than those who ate a low amount.  Those who ate poultry did NOT have an increase in mortality. Overall, the researchers predict that 3.3% of deaths could be prevented if people started eating less than 20g/day of processed meat.  I should note that the high red meat number was still HIGH after adjusting for other variables, although it became statistically insignificant, meaning that the real killer in this study ( and in life) is processed meats.

Other interesting findings in the study were that if you smoke and eat processed meats, your risk of dying is much higher than if you don’t smoke and eat processed meats.  The more vegetables and fruits you eat decrease your chances of dying in all meat consumption groups.  The group that ate the highest amount of red meat had a significant increase in the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease( but not cancer), and the group that ate the highest amount of processed meat had a significantly higher risk of dying of cancer.
You can find this study online if you want to read more about it, however I consider it a very significant study, because it involved a lot of people, which gives the study more power, and it involved people in many different countries, which makes it easier to generalize its results.  Though we all know we need to eat less of the saturated fat in meat, it is always great to have a good study to back up good advice.

Interestingly enough, I just heard Mia McDonald, CEO of Brighter Green  give a fantastic lecture on the world’s dangerous desire for meat and the cost of that desire on our health.  Rates of diabetes, obesity, cancer and more are increasing around the world.  Even worse, as the worldwide demand for meat only increases,  low quality factory farms are popping up everywhere and over-breeding animals to meet the cry for flesh. Animals are abused, pumped up with antibiotics to avoid disease, yes, but also to eat more and get plumper, given processed feeds and then killed and served on your plate.  It’s happening more and more, so if you do eat meat, carefully trace back where it came from, because whatever whoever put in it is now going inside of you. As I posted on Facebook recently in response to a NYTimes article that said many state politicians are proposing legislation to make it illegal to film animal abuse on factory farms, “An abused meat source is not a good one.”

That said, here are some shocking ( and somewhat disgusting and gluttonous) facts about meat that I jotted down during Mia’s lecture the other night:
1) The USA raises 10 billion animals per year for meat and each person consumes approximately 200 lbs of meat per year.
2) The lovely Goldman Sachs invests in China’s deplorable factory farming. Want to read more about that? Check it out here.
3)Agriculture of livestock contributes 1/3 of the Greenhouse Gases.  (Think, instead of pigs on steroids, you now have Global Warming on steroids)
4)Brazil now has more cows than people and is the top exporter of beef to China.
5)  India has the world’s largest share of methane from livestock and now has a total of 300 million cows
6) The U.S. food system uses 18% of the WORLD’S total energy supply
7) Up to 70% of antibiotics in the United States are used NONTHERAPEUTICALLY on farmed animals.
   ( Think…this is why you’re fat and getting cancer.) 
 8) Because of all the antibiotic use on farm animals, antibiotic-resistant genes are transmitted by eating meat.
9)Antibiotic-Resistance costs the United States between 16.6 to 26 billion per year.
10) And ready for this?     Researchers predict by the year 2050, over 100 billion animals will be raised for meat per year.  I’m about to use an inappropriate pun, but HOLY COW!!!

What can you do about it? 
1) Eat less meat. Have meatless holidays.  Think of your heart and cholesterol level. Also think of this really huge study I wrote out above.
2)Write your state legislators and make sure they do not ban activist groups from exposing the horrors of factory farms. Again, you don’t want to eat an animal that has been abused.  At the least, get curious about where your food comes from, and research it.  You may be pleasantly or not so pleasantly surprised.
3)Eat organic and free-range.  Really, it’s the only way to go.  Or better yet, find a local farmer and get meat from him/her.
4)Whatever you do, do NOT eat the meat in China.    Remember all those dead pigs that were mysteriously floating down rivers in China?  Yeah. Just don’t eat the meat in china.
5) If you are eating meat and following a low-carb diet, well, maybe try going for the ZONE diet or following the Glycemic Load chart instead, which is a lot healthier for your cardiovascular system ( as well as your kidneys) and a much easier diet to maintain in the long run. I have yet to see a NO-CARB dieter go beyond 1 month without getting fed up with the diet.  We aren’t designed to cut out major food groups from our diet.

All that said, Save the Pigs!

Eeks 🙂

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