Monday, May 17, 2010

No problem with red meat

This study has hit the news today. Interestingly the element that is being focussed on is that preserved meat may be a problem rather than the finding that

Red meat intake was not associated with CHD or diabetes!
Despite what we keep getting told....there is no problem with red meat.

Abstract: Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Background—Meat consumption is inconsistently associated with development of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and diabetes mellitus, limiting quantitative recommendations for consumption levels. Effects of meat intake on these different outcomes, as well as of red versus processed meat, may also vary.

Methods and Results—We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of evidence for relationships of red (unprocessed), processed, and total meat consumption with incident CHD, stroke, and diabetes mellitus. We searched for any cohort study, case-control study, or randomized trial that assessed these exposures and outcomes in generally healthy adults. Of 1598 identified abstracts, 20 studies met inclusion criteria, including 17 prospective cohorts and 3 case-control studies. All data were abstracted independently in duplicate. Random-effects generalized least squares models for trend estimation were used to derive pooled dose-response estimates. The 20 studies included 1 218 380 individuals and 23 889 CHD, 2280 stroke, and 10 797 diabetes mellitus cases. Red meat intake was not associated with CHD (n=4 studies; relative risk per 100-g serving per day=1.00; 95% confidence interval, 0.81 to 1.23; P for heterogeneity=0.36) or diabetes mellitus (n=5; relative risk=1.16; 95% confidence interval, 0.92 to 1.46; P=0.25). Conversely, processed meat intake was associated with 42% higher risk of CHD (n=5; relative risk per 50-g serving per day=1.42; 95% confidence interval, 1.07 to 1.89; P=0.04) and 19% higher risk of diabetes mellitus (n=7; relative risk=1.19; 95% confidence interval, 1.11 to 1.27; P<0.001). Associations were intermediate for total meat intake. Consumption of red and processed meat were not associated with stroke, but only 3 studies evaluated these relationships.

Conclusions—Consumption of processed meats, but not red meats, is associated with higher incidence of CHD and diabetes mellitus. These results highlight the need for better understanding of potential mechanisms of effects and for particular focus on processed meats for dietary and policy recommendations.


Sean said...

Yeah, I had to laugh at this BBC header quote "...while red meat does not seem to be as harmful, a study suggests." Talk about spin doctors.

They later admit, "But there was no such risk from eating even twice as much unprocessed meat, such as beef, lamb or pork."

To quote Claude Rains in Casablanca, "I am shocked, SHOCKED to find that gambling is going on in here!"

Anonymous said...

"Writing in the journal Circulation, the researchers speculated that given the similar quantities of cholesterol and saturated fats, the difference may be explained by the salt and preservatives added to processed meats."

What else is in sausages?? Um.... Grains!!! Does one think that sausage consumers might be more likely to consume additional grains, such as bread with their bangers? I would say that the likes of sausages are more likely to be consumed with additional grains than a steak.

Yes salt & preservatives may be an issue, but I'd be barking up the tree of other associations that go with processed meat consumption as well.

Asclepius said...

David Colqhoun has done a fine job taking apart the some of the crap science that leads people to link sausage, bacon and cancer:

Stephanie Bradley said...

Another meta-analysis published in March in the AJCN came to the same conclusion! Researchers then insitefully commented that "more data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat”. (In other words, remove saturated fat and replace it with foods with different high nutrient profiles to lower risk.

Exciting stuff, shame it doesn't make it to the 6pm news!

Anonymous said...

I do eat some processed meat, specifically corned beef, vienna sausages and potted meat. I eat none of the above with bread (who still eats bread? :P) and usually eat them with onions. I do try to buy the brands with the lowest sodium but this (and others mentioned) study concerns me to the point where I am considering eliminating the processed meats from my diet. I would say I consume them maybe twice a week.