But will eating red meat kill you, as so many news articles are now proclaiming, based on this study?
Turns out the answer is probably not. Mark Sisson of "Mark's Daily Apple" - the paleo-lifestyle go-to mentor - analyzes the faults in this study and especially the media's misapprehension of it, and systematically tears it down. The most salient points:
- It's an observational study (not science per se)
- ...based on self-reporting eating and other behaviors on a bi-annual basis.
- Participants clearly lied about their intake, because the average person in Australia clearly consumes more than 1200 (women) - 2000 (men) calories per day.
- ...but more important is that the self-reporting meat-eaters reported eating 800 more calories per day than the non-meat-eaters
- ...any amount of which could be hamburger, which (if American eating habits are under discussion here) was likely delivered buried in special sauce, cooking grease, and refined-flour buns.
- They also smoked more
- ...were less active
- ...and took fewer multi-vitamins
- Oh, and the meat-eaters had lower cholesterol.
Why wasn't the title of the report, "Eating red meat lowers cholesterol"?
When I first saw the news reports on this study, I was a little concerned about eating paleo-style. Well, it seems those concerns were unfounded. The important hypothesis that I get from this observational study (which Mark points out is only the first step in the scientific method)?
Avoid eating fast food, eat fewer calories, get more exercise, and don't smoke.
World-shattering, I know.
There you have it: This study tells us nothing new. What people should not get out of this is that you should eat more grains and seeds - these we know are bad for human consumption (see Mark's "Start Here" page).
Thanks for the heads-up, clevermanka!