Red meat is again linked with cancer and heart diseases, according to TIME. Following is the news from Yahoo! news.
For more information on why and how animal products are linked with diseases like cancer, heart diseases, osteoporosis, etc. read The China Study.
In more news that has steak lovers feeling deflated, a study published in this week's issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that people who indulge in high amounts of red meat and processed meats, including steak, bacon, sausage and cold cuts, have an increased risk of death from cancer and heart disease. The findings add power to the growing push - by health officials, environmentalists and even some chefs - to cool America's love affair with meat.
The analysis of more than half a million Americans between the ages of 50 and 71 found that men in the highest quintile of red-meat consumption - those who ate about 5 oz. of red meat a day, roughly the equivalent of a small steak, according to lead author Rashmi Sinha - had a 31% higher risk of death over a 10-year period than men in the lowest-consumption quintile, who ate less than 1 oz. of red meat per day, or approximately three slices of corned beef. Men in the top fifth also had a 22% higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27% higher risk of dying of heart disease. In women, the figures were starker: women in the highest quintile of consumption had a 36% increase in death over a 10-year period compared with women who ate little red meat; eating lots of meat was associated with a 20% higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50% higher risk of dying of heart disease.
The data for one of the largest analyses of meat consumption and mortality to date were first gathered for the National Institutes of Health and AARP Diet and Health Study in 1995. Researchers then tracked deaths for 10 years, until 2005, using the Social Security Administration Death Master File and the National Death Index, controlling for factors such as age, race, education, body-mass index and alcohol intake.
"Basically, the consumption of red and processed meat was associated with modest increases in mortality," says Sinha, a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, who is careful to emphasize that the institute is a research organization and does not make health recommendations. She suggests, however, that the fat content of and heavy iron concentration in red and processed meats, along with high-temperature cooking methods that can lead to the development of carcinogens, may increase the risk for disease and death. In contrast, the study found that higher white-meat consumption was associated with a lower risk of death. (VT: Help save earth by going vegetarian)
Dr. Barry Popkin, a nutrition epidemiologist and economist who directs the interdisciplinary obesity program at the University of North Carolina, would use a term other than Sinha's "modest." "You're talking about a lot of deaths that would be prevented by cutting your processed meat or cutting your red meat," he says. He suggests framing the issue in real terms. A McDonald's Big Mac contains 7.5 oz. of red meat, Popkin points out. So if your diet consists of a Big Mac every other day - roughly equivalent to the highest quintile of meat consumption in the study; in other words, the typical American diet - you could cut back to one Big Mac a week and see dramatic health benefits.
The impact would be dramatic for the planet as well, Popkin writes in an editorial that accompanies the study. Popkin, whose recently published book The World Is Fat examines the global trends driving the obesity epidemic, joins a growing cohort of researchers, environmentalists and foodies clamoring for an overhaul of the American diet. Currently, the average American consumes more than 200 lb. of meat a year, a habit that comes at considerable environmental cost, Popkin says. He cites a recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization finding that livestock account for 18% of global greenhouse-gas emissions - more than transportation - and underscores the fact that the livestock industry uses up to five times the water necessary to cultivate crops.
What's more, the developing world seems to be falling in step, Popkin says. In India, meat and dairy intake more than doubled between 2000 and 2005. In 2006, the average diet of 67% of the Chinese population comprised at least 10% meat and dairy products, up from about 39% of the population in 1989. "We truly did this to the globe - changed the way the world eats," says Popkin.
But our diet can be changed back, says Mark Bittman, a cookbook author, New York Times contributor and deity in the world of foodies. He started by cutting back on meat and dairy and says he now consumes roughly one-third the animal products he used to, adhering to what's become known as the Vegan Before Six (or VB6) diet: vegan foods for the first two meals of the day, then anything you want for dinner.
In his new book Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, Bittman makes the case for limiting meat, eggs and dairy; increasing fruits and vegetables in our diet; and making small steps to eat healthier, rather than obsessing over terms like sustainable and organic. He advocates an incremental approach to tapering the whopping 600 lb. of animal products the average American eats each year. "I'm not looking to encourage people to do something that they're going to do for two weeks and then say, 'To hell with that!' and go back to eating their regular diet," Bittman says. That would be like trying to jump immediately to an all-bicycle transportation model. "Let's move toward eating less meat," he says, "and then in five years we can re-evaluate."
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