Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Beef Over Red Meat

 Just one more week (for most of us)

In case you haven’t consumed any health news recently, there is a big beef over research showing red meat is not bad for you. A huge study has contradicted decades of anti-red-meat advice, and the experts who gave that advice are red-faced and livid.

The new research was a systematic review of existing research, conducted by a team of interdisciplinary researchers with no conflict of interest. After eliminating many poorly done studies, and studies done on animals (which have unknown application to humans), the team concluded, “The panel suggests that adults continue current unprocessed red meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence). Similarly, the panel suggests adults continue current processed meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence).”

The problem is that this contradicts decades of research saying that meat, especially red and processed meat, is bad for health, allegedly causing heart disease and cancer. Virtually every medical organization has been telling people to stop eating meat for health reasons.

What are all these experts going to do now that the research studies they were relying on for their recommendations were flawed and biased? Experts hate to be told they are wrong. After all, they are the experts, so who can trump them?

This study did. And the response has been anger from the medical community, a very unscientific response.

In a story on the findings, and the reaction from the embarrassed and defensive medical community, the New York Times wrote, “Already [the study authors] have been met with fierce criticism by public health researchers. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other groups have savaged the findings and the journal that published them.”

The Times explains, “While the new findings are likely to please proponents of popular high-protein diets, they seem certain to add to public consternation over dietary advice that seems to change every few years. The conclusions represent another in a series of jarring dietary reversals involving salt, fats, carbohydrates and more.”

Clearly, the Emperor never likes to be told he has no clothes. This is a major rebuke, not only of medicine, but of nutrition research and public policy. As the Times article continued, “Some [medical experts] called for the journal’s editors to delay publication altogether. In a statement, scientists at Harvard warned that the conclusions ‘harm the credibility of nutrition science and erode public trust in scientific research.’”

Harvard doesn’t want the public to realize that its public health recommendations are based on bad science. The public may lose trust. We can’t allow the public to realize that medical advice is sketchy, at best.

Some medical groups don’t like the implications of the study, since they philosophically oppose meat consumption. According to the Times, “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group advocating a plant-based diet, on Wednesday filed a petition against the journal with the Federal Trade Commission.”

Realize that these groups are calling for censorship of scientific information that goes against policy.

Read the rest here.

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