The Red Meat Scare: What I Will Tell My Dad

Posted: March 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

As many of you can probably guess by the amount of times I mention them on my own blog, I can’t say enough how much I enjoy the work from the guys at Cressey Performance, Eric Cressey and Tony Gentilcore.

Recently, independent of one another they posted a link to a blog from Dr. Johnny Bowden concerning a recent study out of Harvard that makes the ‘claim’ that red meat will kill us. From that, the media took it and ran and it has since become and all out frenzy. Anyway, as often happens, I clicked the link from Eric or Tony (I don’t remember which), started reading Dr. Bowden’s response, got side tracked by something else, and went about my day. Needless to say, I never finished the article…

Fast forward to my ride in to clinic today when I called my Dad just to see how he was doing (on a good day this conversation usually turns into one where he tells me how much money he took from his buddy in their weekly golf match and on a bad day he vents about how awful he hits his 3-wood).

Surprisingly, on this occasion the conversation went elsewhere. After having a good laugh over Tebow-mania, he mentioned that he is thinking of giving up red meat. I asked him why, and he said he wasn’t really sure but he is concerned about his health and he has been seeing a lot on the t.v. and internet about the subject. As I began to try and explain to him why I didn’t think red meat was the problem he got a call at work (probably from Bridezilla herself as he owns a bridal gown shop) and we couldn’t finish the conversation. Luckily, it gave me a chance to go back and read Dr. Bowden’s article  (something I should have done in the first place) so I could explain exactly why Harvard’s study is, ahem, less than stellar and what this ‘study’ really told us.

So, here is basically a summary of Dr. Bowden’s article and what I plan on telling my Dad:

  • This study was not technically ‘research’ or scientific for that matter. It is an observational study where over a 30 year period, people filled out a few food frequency questionnaires which may or may not be very reliable.
  • Yes, the people who ate more red meat had a higher rate of death, Howeverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr these meat eaters (1)smoked more (2) drank more (3) exercised less.
  • The group that ate more red meat also had a higher Body Mass Index and higher Blood Pressure.
  • The group that ate more red meat had….wait for it, waittttttt for it –> lower cholesterol.
  • Guess who had the highest cholesterol???????  (hint: they don’t eat meat)
  • A book called “The China Study” did something similar to this Harvard study once. The author gathered over 100,000 statistical associations that supported his vegan beliefs yet somehow forgot to include the facts that did not support his theory. Do you think that it may be important to note that wheat flour had a higher correlation with heart disease than red meat? Good, I do too.
  • Back to the Harvard study…. The group that ate the highest amount of red meat also took the least amount of vitamins.
  • Years ago, a doctor out of Britain did a similar correlation type study and found that sugar was more associated with heart disease than fat.
  • This study does not take into account grass-fed vs processed meat. I think we could all agree there is a difference between a grass-fed filet and a fast food thingtheycall meat patty.

To sum this whole thing up, I am in no way shape or form telling anyone to go out and eat red meat. If you don’t want to, that is fine with me. I think the point here is that we need to be able to separate real facts from media facts. In the end, the only thing health care providers can do is give people the truth and let them make their own decision.

Have a great day!


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