Photo via: Marshall Astor
One million men and half a million women die each year from the excessive consumption of red meat (beef, venison) and processed meats (sausage, bologna). So what, you say, I've heard this same old song and dance for some 20 years now. That's true, but what makes this new study so interesting? Not only have they broken down some of the risk factors of eating red meat within these statistics, but they also are beginning to understand that perhaps it is not so much the red meat itself, but rather the lifestyle choices of the types of people who eat it.
Red Meat is bad stuff we are told, it clogs the arteries, boosts blood pressure, and allows cancer cells to sneak past the bodies own self defense mechanism. So where's the statistical evidence? It's right here...The National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study
The NIH study was directed by Rashmi Sinha, of the National Cancer Institute. It followed the lives of some 322,263 men and 223,390 women from the ages of 50 to 71. It is important to note that this is the most extensive studies on red meat that has ever been accomplished, lasting the course of a decade.
Each participant was asked to divulge their diet, alcohol consumption, smoking habits, education level, medication/vitamin supplements, weight, and family history of health and disease. Over the next 10 years, 47,976 of the men and 23,276 of the women died due to various causation factors. What they found is that there was an increased rate of deaths among those with diets consisting of high meat consumption. A rate which was found to be as low as 20 percent for some participants, or as high as 40 percent for others.
The researchers then took these findings and extrapolated them to include all Americans in the same age range as the participants. When they did this, they found that approximately 1 million men and 500,000 women appear to die each year due to poor diet habits, which includes eating 4 ounces or more of red meat every day. The participants who ate more white meat than red, had a higher survival rate, while those who were on strict vegetable diet had the best overall survival rate.
Here is where the study gets interesting. They noted that many of the participants who ate higher quantities of red meat, also participated in other risky behavior, such as smoking, high alcohol consumption, and overeating. This same group also did not take supplemental vitamins, exercise regularly, or eat their daily recommended servings of fiber, fruit, and vegetables.
What this research points to, is that people who who eat high quantities of red meat, also tend to indulge themselves in more risky behavior. When these people decide to blow it, they don't just falter here and there, they go all out and really live life to the fullest (so to speak). It is this reason that it makes it rather difficult to create an exact statistic on the disease causing factors of consuming over 4 ounces of red meat per day.
What We Do Know
While research can't offer the exact specifics on the dangers of red meat consumption, there are a few things we do know. We know that red meat adds to the effects of environmental pollution, the depletion of fresh water, and the instigation of global warming. We know that it is linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
We also know that red meat sources have been linked with certain types of cancer, including colon, ovarian, and prostate. Much of this is said to be caused by the carcinogens released during the cooking of raw meat. This is especially true of processed meats which often contain nitrosamines, which are formed from the chemical reaction between sodium nitrite (a preservative used in most processed meat products) and high cooking temperatures (frying).
So what should all this mean to you? Well, it means that your life is in your own hands. The choices you make regarding your health can be a deciding factor over whether you live or die. The more poor choices you make the less time on earth you will have, and also don't forget about the environmental factor, which will mean the less time the earth might have. Please choose wisely... you only have but one life and one earth to live!