Meat might not kill you after all, new study says

Thursday, 03 Oct, 2019

Most people can continue to eat red and processed meat as they do now.

Using randomized controlled studies as well as observational studies that explored the effect of eating red meat and processed meat on cardiovascular, metabolic and cancer conditions, they carried out five systematic reviews in all.

Researchers at McMaster and Dalhousie universities found that cutting back on red or processed meat had little impact on health.

"Our weak recommendation that people continue their current meat consumption highlights both the uncertainty associated with possible harmful effects and the very small magnitude of effect, even if the best estimates represent true causation, which we believe to be implausible", the panel of scientists conducting the study wrote.

After analyzing dozens of studies, researchers from seven different countries concluded in new guidelines published Monday in the Annals of International Medicine that the evidence linking red meat and processed meat to heart disease, cancer and other illnesses is very small.

Eating red meat is linked to cancer and heart disease, but are the risks big enough to justify giving up juicy burgers and succulent steaks?

The health benefits of limiting red or processed meat consumption to three or four servings per week may be minimal, but approximately one third of American adults eat much more than that, around one serving of red or processed meat every day.

They were tasked with assessing the quality of the evidence available on meat consumption and health outcomes.

The paper changed into in step with the research of a 14-stable global personnel of consultants and printed on Monday in Annals of Interior Treatment.

"Regularly eating processed meat, and higher consumption of red meat, increases your risk of colorectal cancer; suggesting that there is no need to limit these foods would put people at risk of colorectal cancer and further undermine public confidence in dietary advice", Dr. Nigel Brockton, the group's vice president of research, said in the statement.

Researchers are hoping that this new study will influence future dietary recommendations.

An editorial by authors at the Indiana University School of Medicine added: "This is sure to be controversial, but is based on the most comprehensive review of the evidence to date".

"... the journal may have exacerbated the situation by circulating a press release entitled "New guidelines: No need to reduce red or processed meat consumption for good health".

The accompanying editorial by authors at the Indiana University School of Medicine admitted they were aware the findings would be unpopular with many, stating: "The overall recommendations, contrary to nearly all others that exist, suggested that adults continue to eat their current levels of red and processed meat, unless they felt inclined to change them themselves".

But did he expect his work on the perceived risks of eating red and processed meats would cause an global firestorm?

"More than 99 per cent of households in the United Kingdom enjoy red meat, according to Kantar, and this report should give them the permission to continue to enjoy red meat as part of a healthy balanced diet".

"Red meat in moderation is not the devil".

Attacks on the quality of nutrition research have been coming from many sources lately: the food industry, of course, but also statisticians (John Ioannidis at Stanford is making a career of this), and some scientists (usually with ties to food companies).

"While it can form part of healthy diet, eating too much can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer". They say that while nutrition is now a matter of global concern, but "People need to be able to make decisions about their own diet based on the best information available".