If you’ve ever looked at the New York Post, then you know just how powerful sensational headlines can be. You probably also know how dangerous it is to take those headlines at face value and ignore the bigger story when matters of health come into play.
For instance, let me share a headline I came across recently:
Eating high rates of red meat in youth linked to breast cancer
This is exactly why reading the whole article—not just the headline—is so important. So in case you missed the rest of the story, let me fill you in on the details. And explain why this headline is so absurd.
The article referred to data from the Nurses’ Health Study II—a large, famous study that involved over 100,000 women. And according to researchers, it showed that women who ate less red meat in their adulthood may also have a lower risk of breast cancer.
Based on this finding, the media labeled red meat as deadly. But putting outrageous headlines aside for a moment, let’s take a closer look to see if that’s even a remotely reasonable conclusion to draw.
The Nurses’ Health Study is practically a household name, due to its vast size and scope. And, indeed, we’ve collected a lot of vital information from it over the years. But in situations like this, you have to consider its limitations, too.
For one thing, it’s a prospective cohort study, where women were simply asked to remember what they ate. And that’s strike number one. Most people don’t journal what they eat every day. And even if they did, there’s no way to guarantee they’re being honest with their records. (It’s far too easy to conveniently “forget.”)
But we also don’t know what else the meat-eaters ate. (I’ve talked about the problems with “scientific” conclusions like this before. Sadly, mainstream advice has vilified red meat for decades now—misleading health-conscious individuals to actively avoid it in favor of other “healthier” proteins.
So it’s fair to assume that a lot of enthusiastic red meat eaters may also be ignoring other mainstream health advice—even the good kind, like eating less processed junk food and exercising regularly.
Researchers didn’t take this detail into consideration. But they really should have. Especially since data showed that the women who ate more red meat also happened to eat more in general (and had higher BMIs to show for it). And they also smoked more.
Those are two glaringly obvious risk factors for cancer right there. Yet red meat somehow ends up shouldering all the blame. Again.
To make matters worse, researchers didn’t account for the quality of the red meat women were eating either. According to the study: “Total red meat items listed on the food frequency questionnaire included unprocessed red meat (beef, pork, or lamb as a sandwich, pork as a main dish, beef or lamb as a main dish, and hamburger) and processed red meat (hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meat such as sausage, salami, bologna).”
But there’s a big difference between roast beef between two pieces of white bread and roast beef on top a fresh green salad. And a grass-fed local steak is a far cry from a McDonald’s cheeseburger or a Ball Park Frank. It doesn’t take a genius to see that.
Yet, this study put them all in the same category.
I could raise a million more questions about the validity of this research. But the bottom line will still be the same.
The medical establishment has been gunning for red meat for decades. They have no proof that it’s bad for you—so they try to manufacture evidence by cooking the numbers.
But the facts tell a different story. In fact, tomorrow I’ll tell you why giving up meat is one of the worst things you can do. Stay tuned…
“Dietary protein sources in early adulthood and breast cancer incidence: prospective cohort study.” BMJ. 2014 Jun 10;348:g3437.