Wow, two posts in two days! Get excited, it probably won’t happen often 😛
I was spurred to post a little one today, however, after a scurrilous report about the inherent dangers of munching on cow. As most of you are aware, I follow a diet that one of my gym-buddies loving refers to as her “meatatarian” lifestyle, and therefore naturally you might think that this news would immediately give me pause. In fact, I imagine that many folks out there saw these fear-mongering articles making their way around teh interwebs and reacted thusly:
“Oh noes!111!!!!!1! My hamburgers will kill me! Must instantly switch to the vegan, raw diet of wheat germ and ice waterz!”
Needless to say, that’s not quite how I responded when I saw the article. I believe I actually rolled my eyes and said to myself, “Self, we’ve been down this road before. Let’s learn a little more about this study and the conclusions made before we cut out meatballs, because as we know, correlation does not equal causation.” And yes, apparently I have multiple personalities.
But in all seriousness, studies like these come out with annoying frequency, claiming in their collective cries that things humanity has eaten for tens of thousands of years, without pinpointed repercussions, suddenly in the last century or so have actually turned out to be THE WORST THING EVER. And every time a study like this pops up and shakes around for a bit, invariably people with way more patience than I take the time to sit down, parse through the thing, and poke fingers through all the holes that the study’s authors left behind in their analysis.
This is to say then, that yesterday when I reacted initially to this “new” and “revalatory” study, what I really did was to roll my eyes and said to myself, “Self, we’ve been down this road before.
Let’s learn a little more about this study and the conclusions made before we cut out meatballs, because as we know, correlation does not equal causation. Let’s wait until Denise Minger debunks this crap for me.”
And boy did she come through! Denise is a self-described lover of health science, and while not a scientist by trade, she is scary smart and loves to pick apart scientific studies for fun. She also is a fellow voyageuse into the realm of “alternative” food lifestyles (she refers to herself as a “(recovered) raw vegan”) and therefore, I believe, has a great perspective with which to approach any study that appears such as this one.
She also started college at age 16 and and is, like, 23 years old.
What have I DONE with my life???? That’s very impressive, and I am in no way jealous of her talents. 😛
I hung out at marksdailyapple.com waiting for her to show up, and poof, got my wish today!
Her detailed yet concise analysis of the shocking anti-meat study can be found here. Please read it; you’ll be glad you did. Analysis: Will Eating Red Meat Kill You?
Or, if you’re really in a hurry (TL;DR):
-The case studies that the authors are basing all their data on are observational, and not experimental (ie, a place to create a hypothesis, NOT a place to make conclusions);
-There is a known phenomena of people over-reporting “good” food intake and under-reporting “bad” food intake in food questionnaires (ones that don’t have the participants actually record their food, just say what they ate), leading to a resulting dataset that is questionably accurate, at best;
-The authors did not really take into account that people who eat lots of red meat probably do other stuff bad too, and the questionnaires supported this (eg, people who reported eating lots of red meat had higher likelihoods of being smokers); and finally
-A 20% increase in death risk is really what happens when your overall risk for a certain disease goes from 5% to 6%. Not up a full 20 percentage points from say, 5% to 25%.
The long and short of it is, red meat may cause a cancer. So might cell phones. And diet soda. And whole grains. And happiness and sunshine and kittens and well, you get it. Folks, you’re gonna leave this earth one way or the other, and even if this study holds trrue, I know if I can live a long life having eaten a few bison potstickers, or live a slightly longer life going full-veggie, I think the choice is clear:
aka, You won’t win friends with salad. 😛