More red meat risk analysis

NHS Choices finally published its critique of the Harvard red meat research that had the tabloids screaming that meat kills earlier this week. I provided some commentary on Sciencebase soon after. Anyway, this is what NHS Choices concludes:

“This study had several strengths including its size, long follow-up period and detailed and repeated assessments of people’s meat intake. It also adjusted the results for other factors that might affect risk of mortality.”

However, the site also points out that the study was based on questionnaires. “…relying on participants to self-report factors, such as their meat intake through questionnaires, introduces the possibility of error, although the questionnaires were validated,” it adds.

One major concern, however, is that the participants in the study were mainly white health professionals, so the results may not be relatable to other populations.

NHS Choices adds that: “This study cannot prove that regular consumption of red meat ‘kills’.” The site points out that despite what vegans and others often claim, “Red meat is a good source of protein and certain nutrients such as iron, some vitamins and zinc.”

On the basis of a suspected increase in bowel cancer risk, the UK’s Department of Health advises adults who eat high levels of red and processed meat to reduce their intake to no more than 70 grams a day. I’d add to that the same kind of guideline they offer for alcohol consumption – moderation and not every day. Steak and ale every day is not going to be good for you…you can just tell, really, can’t you?