“Ho hum, more evidence that red meat is bad for you,” was my reaction when I saw the new study out of Harvard showing a link between red meat consumption and earlier death. But some of the coverage was fairly alarming — The Los Angeles Times headline is “All red meat is bad for you, new study says.”
So kudos to Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a Canadian obesity specialist, and his Weighty Matters blog for putting the latest study in perspective. He runs through the study’s methodological strengths and weakness, and sums up:
So are you going to die if you eat red meat?
Well you’re going to die regardless of what you eat, but this study would suggest that you’ll die ever so slightly younger if you eat red meat each and every day of the week, and even younger still if you eat processed red meat each and every day of the week. Did you catch the caveat of each and every day of the week? It certainly wasn’t hidden in the study.
He notes that even one of the study’s authors, Harvard’s Frank Hu, says moderate red meat consumption of perhaps once every other day should be fine. And for himself, Dr. Freedhoff writes:
I adore red meat. I also adore processed red meat. But ultimately this study just adds more weight to what the bulk of the literature has already concluded – processed and unprocessed red meats aren’t my best protein choices and if consumed daily, carry risks, albeit absolutely small ones, that other protein sources seemingly don’t.