Friday, 27 March 2009


“One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” – English Proverb's+meat+is+another+man's+poison

I was in Brisbane all day today for work, flying in early morning and coming back late at night. It makes for a very long day, but I prefer to come back to my own bed and if everything turns out well, like today, it makes it worthwhile.

The results of a USA study that was progressing for more than ten years were released last Monday. Apparently, people who eat more red or processed meat have a higher risk of death from all causes including cancer, while a higher consumption of white meat reduces these risks. The joint study was begun in 1995 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and seniors group AARP and it followed more than half a million men and women between age 50 and 71, who filled out a food frequency questionnaire estimating their intake of red and processed meats as well as white meats such as pork, chicken and turkey.

It was observed that 47,976 men and 23,276 women died during the period of time the study lasted. Those men and women who ate the most red meat (a median of 62.5 grams per 1,000 calories per day) had a higher mortality rate than those who consumed the least (9.8 grams per 1000 calories). Similar rates held true for consumers of processed meat.

In comparison to this, the people who ate the most white meat had a slightly lower risk for death than those who ate the least white meat. It was found that as far as the overall mortality was concerned, 11% of deaths in men and 16% of deaths in women could be prevented if people decreased their red meat consumption to the level of intake indicated by the lower consumption group (ie: 9.8 grams per 1000 calories). Similar benefits would result in cardiovascular disease mortality if the red meat consumption was decreased to the same degree.

Carcinogens (cancer-causing compounds) are known to form during high-temperature cooking of meat (eg, barbequeing, frying, grilling), the report stated, and meat is a major source of saturated fat, which has been linked to certain cancers. Lower meat consumption has been linked to reductions in risk factors for heart disease, including lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

These results have confirmed what has been known empirically for a very long time and also what the results of smaller studies previously showed. It still makes sense to reduce overall meat intake, preferring white over red meat and to also increase fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetable consumption.

Have a good weekend!

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