This Meat Research Study is Bad to the Bone

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

So you may have seen some sensational nutrition headlines saying things like Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice and Is Eating Beef Healthy? The New Fight Raging In Nutrition Science.

They’re talking about a horribly flawed research study that managed to get published in the Annals of Internal Medicine yesterday (though it’s likely to be retracted very rapidly).

How is the meat study flawed? Let me count the ways:

*The conclusions being made don’t match with the study’s findings. The meat study actually DID show that eating meat leads to an increased risk of death, particularly from cardiovascular disease. The authors are arguing that risk measured on the large scale shouldn’t apply to individuals.

*They didn’t include some of the most important nutrition studies, which watered down their findings. Studies like the classic PREDIMED and Lyon Diet Heart Study were well-conducted and have stood the test of time (and in the case of PREDIMED, re-analysis and re-publication) which I find shocking.

*They used a bizarre methodology that didn’t apply to the data (and would have gotten me an F grade in my public health clinical research statistics class if I’d pulled such sloppy tricks while earning my MPH years ago).

There’s more, and if you want to know why several large organizations (like the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the True Health Initiative) and many VIP nutrition scholars (like Walter Willet, David Katz, and Dean Ornish) are all calling for this paper’s retraction, read these articles by WebMD or Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Source.

Meantime, more and more well-conducted studies continue to show that the more red and processed meat we eat, the greater our risk of death, like this article published in BMJ in April 2019. Basically, “An increase in total red meat consumption of at least half a serving per day was associated with a 10% higher mortality risk. For processed and unprocessed red meat consumption, an increase of at least half a serving per day was associated with a 13% higher mortality risk.”

There are so so many solid studies showing that greater meat consumption is associated with real health risks… Makes you wonder why the authors of this flawed meat study went looking for a different conclusion, unless it was to create sensational headlines.

Well, how about this one: This Meat Study is Bad to the Bone: Flawed Research Methods Fly in the Face of the Evidence.

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