24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
Fax: (361)578-5500

Basic InformationLatest News
Getting Your Protein From Plants a Recipe for LongevityUpping Fruit, Veggies, Grain Intake Can Cut Your Diabetes Risk by 25%Healthier School Meal Programs Helped Poorer Kids Beat Obesity: StudyExcess Sugar Is No Sweet Deal for Your HeartAHA News: A Healthier Frozen Treat for Hot Summer DaysIntestinal Illness Spurs Recall of Bagged Salads Sold at Walmart, AldiHealthier Meals Could Mean Fewer Strokes, Heart AttacksWhat Difference Do Calorie Counts on Menus Make?Female Athletes Shortchange Themselves on NutritionMilk Chocolate, Dairy and Fatty Foods Tied to Acne in AdultsLatest in Cancer Prevention: Move More, Ditch Beer and BaconFor Tasty Tomatoes, Either the Fridge or the Counter Is OK: StudyAHA News: Calorie Data on Menus Could Generate Significant Health, Economic BenefitsHealth Warning Labels Could Cut Soda SalesWhere Are Kids Getting the Most 'Empty Calories'?AHA News: A Nutritious Side Dish to Grill This Memorial DayAHA News: Cooking More at Home? Diverse Food Cultures Can Expand Heart-Healthy MenuEven One High-Fat Meal May Dull Your MindToo Many Sugary Sodas Might Harm Your KidneysCan Fruits, Tea Help Fend Off Alzheimer's Disease?More Evidence Sugary Drinks Harm Women's HeartsIn COVID Crisis, Nearly Half of People in Some U.S. States Are Going HungryNavigating the Grocery Store SafelyOn Some Farms, Washing Machines Give Leafy Greens a Spin -- But Is That Safe?Coffee May Do a Heart Good, as Long as It's FilteredPotato & Sausages, Cold Cuts a Bad Combo for Your BrainTips for Safe Grocery ShoppingWhich Foods Might Reduce Your Odds for Dementia?High-Fiber Diets May Lower Odds for Breast CancerMission Possible: Tips for Safe Grocery Shopping During the PandemicDon't Worry About U.S. Food Supply, FDA SaysAHA News: Is This Nature's Healthier Meat Replacement?AHA News: If You Think Before You Snack, It's Not So BadCooking Up a Storm During Coronavirus Crisis? Store Leftovers SafelyU.S. Kids, Teens Eating Better But Nutrition Gaps PersistTurning to Tofu Might Help the Heart: StudyEating Fish in Moderation During Pregnancy Benefits Fetus: StudyDon't Abandon Healthy Eating During Coronavirus PandemicFor Heart Health, Not All Plant-Based Diets Are Equal: StudyTrying the Keto Diet? Watch Out for the 'Keto Flu'How to Understand New Food LabelsWill a Jolt of Java Get Your Creative Juices Flowing?Post-Game Snacks May Undo Calorie-Burning Benefit of Kids' SportsOlive Oil Could Help Lower Your Heart Disease RiskMore Evidence That Ditching Red Meat Is Good for Your HeartUnscrambling the Egg Data: One a Day Looks OKAHA News: How Millennials' Notions on Food Are Changing the Entire SystemWant Your Kids to Eat Veggies? Both Parents Must Set ExampleBig Breakfast May Be the Most Slimming Meal of the DaySugary Sodas Wreak Havoc With Cholesterol Levels, Harming the Heart
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Wellness and Personal Development

Carnivores' Comeback: Review Supports Red Meat in Diet

HealthDay News
by By Dennis ThompsonHealthDay Reporter
Updated: Sep 30th 2019

new article illustration

MONDAY, Sept. 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- There's a lurking dread in the back of the minds of many people who love steak, burgers and bacon -- the fear that what they enjoy eating might not be doing their health any favors.

But a major new review argues that folks can set those fears aside.

Cutting back on consumption of red meat or processed meat will not significantly reduce a person's risk of heart disease or cancer, the evidence review concluded.

"Based on the research, we cannot say with any certainty that eating red meat or processed meat causes cancer, diabetes or heart disease," said senior researcher Bradley Johnston. He's an associate professor of community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

As you can imagine, leading cancer and heart associations didn't warm to the new findings.

The study's conclusions were reached in part because the researchers considered people's values and preferences as they crafted their recommendations, said Marji McCullough, a nutritional epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society.

It's no surprise that people who enjoy red meat would rather keep eating it, she said.

"It's kind of like saying 'we know helmets can save lives, but some people still prefer the feeling of the wind in their hair.' And let's face it, most people will be OK, they won't crash," McCullough said. "But everyone agrees you should wear a helmet, because public health recommendations are based on their effects on the population."

However, using the evidence collected by the review, an international panel of experts have issued new dietary guidelines saying that most adults can keep eating as much red and processed meat as they like -- a recommendation that's contrary to nearly all other existing guidelines.

But study author Johnston defended the conclusions. "This is not 'just another study' on red and processed meat," he said, "but a series of five high-quality systematic reviews to inform dietary recommendations."

As a result, the expert panel's recommendation on red meat is "far more transparent, robust and reliable" than other guidelines, Johnston said.

The full package of five evidence reviews and the expert panel's recommendation was published online Oct. 1 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the journal of the American College of Physicians.

Current estimates indicate that adults in North America and Europe eat red meat and processed meat about three to four times a week, researchers said in background notes.

Many studies continue to report that red and processed meat is bad for you. For example, a Harvard-led study published June 12 in the BMJ concluded that people who increase their red meat intake by just half a serving a day boost their risk of dying over the next eight years by 10%.

But Johnston and his colleagues wondered if pooling the evidence obtained from high-quality studies and clinical trials might paint a different picture.

It did, as it turns out.

Among 12 clinical trials enrolling about 54,000 individuals, the researchers did not find any statistically significant or important association between meat consumption and the risk of heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

The researchers also pooled evidence from observational studies following millions of participants, and did find a very small reduction in risk among those who consumed three fewer servings of red or processed meat per week. However, they concluded the association was very uncertain.

These findings led a 14-member panel of experts from seven countries to conclude that adults could continue to eat red and processed meat as they now do.

The review focused solely on health considerations, and did not consider ethical or environmental reasons for abstaining from meat, the researchers noted.

Other research recently has shown that red meat consumption increases a person's carbon footprint, contributing to global warming.

"We sought to clarify the evidence on health outcomes only, while noting that we are sympathetic to animal welfare and environmental concerns," said Johnston, lead author of the new guidelines. "Indeed, a number of the guideline panel members have eliminated or reduced their personal red and processed meat intake for animal welfare or environmental reasons."

The new research runs counter to a 2015 World Health Organization evidence review, which concluded that processed meat is a proven carcinogen and red meat is a probable carcinogen, based on the evidence for colorectal cancer, McCullough said.

"Therefore, the American Cancer Society continues to recommend limiting consumption of processed meat, as well as red meat, in order to save lives from cancer," McCullough said.

"They're not saying meat is less risky," McCullough said. "They're saying the risk that everyone agrees on is acceptable for individuals."

The American Heart Association (AHA) also maintains its dim view of red and processed meat.

There's strong evidence that you can improve your heart health by cutting down on saturated fat, said Alice Lichtenstein, an AHA expert and professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University in Boston.

"Major sources of saturated fat include meat and full-fat dairy," Lichtenstein said. "Focusing on a single food or category of foods is overly simplistic and serves to misinform the public."

One flaw of the new evidence review is that, while it included studies with vegetarian participants, it did not compare the health of those who eat meat against those who don't, said Dr. Neal Barnard, founding president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group that advocates for plant-based diets.

It's true that people who eat meat less than once a week have about the same health risks as people who eat more meat, Barnard said.

But it's also true that both those groups are much less healthy than people who cut meat completely out of their diets, he said.

"The headlines are going to say 'burger lovers rejoice, you can eat all the meat you want,' and that's a completely irresponsible message," Barnard said. "The correct message is that little changes give you little results. Big changes give you big results. You can choose what you want to do," he added.

"It's the equivalent of doing a review of the benefit of cutting down on cigarettes as opposed to quitting smoking," Barnard concluded.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about choosing healthy protein.