13 March 2012

Study finds red meat may not be edible - but only in the US

Chapter 5: Fats: from tonic to toxic
Chapter 23: Cancer: disease of civilization

Many in the UK will have heard on the news today that yet another study from Harvard University [1] has linked the eating of red and processed meat with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.

This study is largely nonsense and quite irrelevant to us in the UK. There are lots of similar accusations about red meat, which really only apply (perhaps) to processed meat. The two are always lumped together just as saturated fats and trans fats are, even though the former is healthy and latter is harmful.

But there is more to this. Think of all the peoples in the world - Maasai, Inuit, Samburu, Marsh Arabs, Naga, and many more - who, when they lived exclusively or largely on red meat, DIDN'T get any form of cancer or heart disease.[2-8] There is also no evidence that eating red meat increases cancer and heart disease risk in UK or in mainland Europe. [9]. (See also page 102 of T&T)

The right - healthy - way

You see, all this red-meat-cancer stuff is confined entirely to the US. And it is not difficult to see why this might be so. Firstly look at the way most cattle are farmed today in the US - in concentrated animal feed operations (CAFOs), where the animals are not fed their proper diet of fibrous grasses and vetches, but starchy and omega-6 rich genetically modified soy and cereal grains. This ruins the health of the cattle so that they have to be dosed with antibiotics, it changes the fatty acid components of their body fat, and it reduces the amount of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). And CLA is a powerful anti-cancer agent, which Americans cut off and don't eat!

The wrong - unhealthy - way

And, as we all know, the US is so fat-phobic that even healthy animal fats are trimmed off and replaced with starchy and sugary carbs - which DO increase the risk of both diseases.

None of those things applies in the UK (except the fat-phobia). Incidentally, there is no evidence I know of that the processed meats found throughout Europe - bacon, ham, sausage, salami, wurst, cabernossi, chorizo, cassoulet, etc, are harmful in any way either.

What this latest study really demonstrates (if it demonstrates anything at all) is that the red meat produced and processed in the US might be unhealthy, if consumed as part of a carb-rich diet. Which may be why the health of the US population is about the worst in the industrialised world.

1. Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, et al. Red Meat Consumption and Mortality. Arch Intern Med. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2287.

2. Hoffman FL. The Mortality from Cancer Throughout the World. Newark, NJ: The Prudential Press, 1915.
3. Cope, J. Cancer: Civilization and Degeneration. London: 1932.
4. Berglas A. Cancer: Nature, Cause and Cure. Paris: Institute Pasteur, 1957.
5. McCarrison R. Studies in Deficiency Disease. Cornell University Library, 1921.
6. Jenness D. The Copper Eskimos. Vol. XII, Report of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, 1913-18. Ottawa: The King’s Printer, 1923.
7. Stefansson V. Cancer: Disease Of Civilization? American Book-Stratford Press, Inc. 1960, Chapter 14.
8. Mann GV (ed). Coronary Heart Disease: The dietary sense and nonsense. London: Veritas Society, 1993.
9. Cox BD, Whichelow MJ. Frequent consumption of red meat is not a risk factor for cancer.
BMJ 1997; 315: 1018.