Is Meat Bad For Us or Not?

by birtanpublished on August 29, 2020

If you watch this channel a lot I hope you do if you've read my book and I hope you do and/or you followed me on Twitter and I hope you do you know that I don't generally agree with the idea that meat is bad for you you may also know that some nutrition experts heartily disagree

With me how is it good experts eat different things in the same nutritional data that's the topic of this week's healthcare triage researchers are in another fight about food recently I mentioned that the annals of internal

Medicine published studies arguing that eating red meat poses minimal health risks for most people and then even our certainty about that link is week with these conclusions in hand the author's offered a set of recommendations that

Most people could continue their current levels of meat consumption although not involved in the research I co-authored an editorial for the journal summarizing the findings with dr. Tiffany Doherty also now a healthcare triage writer

Editor arguing that our messaging about the harms of red meat may be falling on deaf ears and then pointing out other messages that might work better to reduce consumption of it the conclusions and the guideline recommendations made

By an international team led by Bradley Johnston an epidemiologist at Dalhousie University run counter to many by established health authorities a number of nutrition researchers wrote me to say that they vehement ly disagree with the

Publication of these papers and feel that they could do real harm they believed that red meat and processed meat consumption poses a health hazard to people and that if people don't reduce their consumption they're putting

Themselves and the planet at risk following questions may help you understand why even researchers of good faith can land on different sides of this debate first question just how good can you trician research be are the

Problem lies in the difficulty in doing research in this area it's almost impossible and some would say unethical to do the most rigorous type of experiment a randomized controlled trial in areas like red meat consumption

Because of that we must rely on observational data we ask people what they're eating and correlate that without others like John Owen Otis an expert in research design and analysis at Stanford argue that weak

And perhaps should do long-term randomized controlled trials of dietary patterns before we make proclamations second question is the best we can get good enough even observational trials are hard to do well most major health

Setbacks are pretty rare it's hard to see big differences in death cancer and heart attacks in even large groups of people unless you follow them over long periods but quantifying what people are eating over long periods is challenging

Too because often people don't remember such studies are also difficult to interpret because of what are called confounding factors maybe people who eat more meat or poor maybe they smoke drink too much alcohol or don't exercise those

Things would also lead to bad outcomes and it's hard to tease out individual components over time if you do trials of people at higher risk those who have already had heart attacks for example it's easier to see if changes matter the

Pretty med trial for instance which studied the Mediterranean diet focused on people who already had diabetes or a number of traits placing them at high risk for heart disease but these people aren't necessarily representative of the

General public from dietary recommendations are written all this means that observational evidence which is easier to obtain will be ruled as low-quality by some researchers others argue that it's the best we can get and

Therefore we should apply different standards to such research third question should we care about signals like blood pressure or only major events like heart attacks because the big outcomes are rare research sometimes

Looks at intermediate measures those like weight blood pressure cholesterol levels and more can change in shorter periods of time some will point to studies in these domains and say that they prove that me reduction has

Significant health effects high blood pressure or cholesterol levels are widely believed to be major risk factors for adverse events others will disagree as to how much we should rely on intermediate measures these new studies

Focused only on those end-stage outcomes fourth question if experts are uncertain should they recommend anything critics of the new meat study argued that given the author's low certainty about their findings they should

No recommendations at all that's not unreasonable when the United States Preventive Services Task Force lacked sufficient evidence to publish recommendations on prevention it gives recommendations in a rating and says the

Current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms that's all maybe that was preferable here instead of publishing recommendations that people continue their current meat consumption fifth

Question should we look at the individual or the population even in studies to find statistically significant effects the absolute benefits and most studies are small we've talked about this before however

Many will argue that even if there's a small individual benefit the benefits to the population can be large they're not wrong let's say that the absolute risk reduction with respect to colon cancer is 0.5 percent that would mean for every

200 people who reduce their meat consumption one would see a benefit 199 would not to an individual that might not seem like a big deal but it also means that if two million people made that change 10,000 would see a benefit

Which from a population standpoint would be great it also means of course that 1 million nine hundred and ninety thousand would see no benefit there are many things that might make a difference at a population level for which people won't

Make changes at an individual level people accept major risks every day to drive to ski and more why because these activities bring benefits that individuals value over the harms should we care more about the individual or the

Population and recommendations and finally should we let people decide for themselves some believe we shouldn't bring preferences into play when we write guidelines focus on the health benefits alone and not on other factors

Such as how much people like meat after all we don't care people like to smoke when we tell them not to others might counter that a study in the International Journal of cancer in 2012 found that men smoking more than thirty

Cigarettes a day had a 10250 percent increased risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma that's huge an increase of 18 percent for a relative risk of 1.18 for processed meat consumption is not the same and therefore it might be

Reasonable to think about how much people derive joy from their current diets relative risk refers to the percentage change in one's absolute or overall risk as a result of some change of behavior 1.18 for example is an 18

Percent change from 1 and 1 represents a baseline of no difference in risk between an experimental group and a control group because these questions don't have black and white answers researchers can look at the same sets of

Data and come to different conclusions should recommendations be more concerned with populations or individuals how much risk should be there to matter should personal preferences be considered what should we say in the face of less than

Optimal evidence nothing play it safe unfortunately too many of these arguments on meat consumption devolve into tribal sides again and there are points on which I'm not seeing as much disagreement eating beef for example is

A major problem for the environment eating less to improve the long-term outlook for climate change could make a huge difference it would be something on which a majority of those involved in these debates might agree

Haeju enjoy this episode you might enjoy this other episode on beef and its effect on the environment you also might like to LIKE and subscribe down below you also might like to go to patreon.com/scishow

Characters where you can help support the show anyway like make it bigger and better we'd especially like to thank our research associate jos evans and of course our surgeon admiral Sam

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