UPDATE! The WHO Came out with a new study that clarifies much. Read first!
I have to admit I was F***ing FLOORED when Harvard released a study that basically says, “If you are within 6 Degrees of Ron Swanson’s bacon-suffused prevailing-wind-fart-contrail, you’re as good as dead.”
But the more I thought of it, the more it seemed like a case of what economists like to call “Statistical-Reacharound-Surprise”, than anything else.
-Ok. I totally made that up. But you know the Freakonomics guys think like that ALL DAY!
The thing is this: Take the poorest, most stupid, uneducated, ignorant, FDA-trusting, 6-pack-a-day-chain-smoking, non-vegetable-eating, doctor-avoiding, uninsured, hard-liquor-binge-drinking, stink-fisting, over-eating, fast-carb-freebasing, high-heat-open-flame-lighter-fluid-soaked-carbonize-grilling-carciongen-forming, t-bone-loving, pseudoestrogen-hormone-disrupted, Jupiterian-Obese Land-Orca imaginable.
Give him EVERY other possible bad habit he’s statistically-likely to have.
Now: Calculate his disease risk.
Grab a hand-grenade.
Pull the pin out.
Wait until bedtime.
Give it to that guy to hold.
Stand somewhere within 10 meters.
Now write a splashy headline blaming the results on red meat consumption.
That’s where I think this study is coming from.
As thoroughly awesome as they are, Harvard doctors are not graduates of Hogwarts’ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
wait… ACCIO FAT GUY!!!
I think best side of Harvard’s idea is that from the Huge Gulf of delta they’ve derived between Best and Worst cases, the data shows an increased statistical clumping of ALL KINDS of bad health factors down the one end.
But Puzzlingly, they seem to think that ANYONE remotely associated with the worst profile-persona in ANY [chosen] Dimension (in this case, -red meat conusmption), will have a [Statistically-Averaged] Increased risk of Dying.
[Even if they are 99% UNlike our friend the Land-Orca-Health-Grenade.]
So check this out, Source & Prep Mistakes:
For the Diet world: It is STUPENDOUSLY EASY to overeat, get & stay Fat.
And for the Red Meat world, it’s Really EASY to get things wrong, and Really HARD to get them right.
Just like surfing the wave system off the coast of Hawaii they call, “JAWS”.
You are either -just- riding the knife-edge of survival, or you are being murderfaced right into the rocky ocean floor by 50 metric tons of Angry-Poseidon-Fist you missed the mount/dismount on.
That ‘miss’ for Red Meat being:
- Eating fatty cuts of meat.
- Eating even slightly burnt meat cooked over direct-flame high-heat.
- Eating cheap, typical-supermarket, crowded-in, feedlot-style, growth-hormoned, antibioticed, sick/downer-included, meatscrap/offal-fed, inhumanely-raised, poorly-butchered, chemically-treated red meat cuts.
- Eating processed ground meat.
- Eating hot dogs.
- Eating any cured red meat, not done Exclusively with Salt.
- Making other Health/Diet/Habit mistakes that could multiply the above.
STILL WORSE: the REAL Radioactive bits come the lower you go down on the scale.
Especially when you arrive at meat that is PROCESSED. Because when it is, they Cure it with not only Sodium NitrATE, but Sodium NitrITE.
Which, according to the WCRF, will Straight-Up MURDER your a**.
-SO MUCH so, that if you Must consume it, many medical pros even recommend getting Vitamin C or OJ Before, During and After, to prevent Cancer-Causing-Nitrosamines from forming.
Now, the part about there being no witchcraft or wizardry: Character.
Think like an Interpreter or an FBI Profiler, and build out an Imaginary Profile-Persona of each possible extreme on the health scale and compare them.
Is adding red meat to a wealthy, supereducated, hyper-comprehensive, hypo-chondriac, organic, patchouli-soaked crunchy yoga instructor/triathlete/research geek’s life going to kill her?
Is taking red meat away from the aforementioned Land-Orca going to magically absolve every Other Geneva-Convention-Violating-Donkey-Show-Health-Sin away from that fat bastard? -Is it going to Change His Psych-Profile?
Now the third part: Quality-Conflation.
The study mistakenly included hamburger as non-processed and DID NOT demarcate different QUALITY-LEVELS of red meat cuts.
Not only because it’s hard to get reliable data on self-reported studies,
But also because the Natural + Organic-Grass-Fed Beef markets are SO FREAKING -TINY-, to ACTUALLY FIND THEM, you’d have to invent a whole new branch of NanoTechnology just for the expedition.
And if you now Multiply (Character X Quality) for the Best-Case Risk-Quadrant, I Guaran-Damn-Tee you, that if our macrobiotic yoga instructor adds the kind of beef she’s LIKELY to buy;
ie: the leanest cuts of Free-Range, Grass-Fed, High-Omega-3, Happy-Cow, Humanely-Euthanized, Expertly-Butchered, Organic,
and keeps doing every other thing she does right,
the effect will be ABSOLUTELY Negligible.
THERE IS NO MAGIC.
So: Instead of giving-in to the herd-mania of sensationalism, my instinct is just to take a common-sense approach.
Get away from high-fat cuts.
No High-Heat Direct-Flame Grilling.
Don’t burn it.
Eat grass-fed, free-range, organic beef.
(Btw, even “Natural” beef with all-vegetable-fed and no antibiotics or hormones can still be fed+finished with crappy corn and crowded into feed-lots. It’s hard to even suggest that as a minimum.)
Otherwise, dredging down near the ocean floor of low-quality:
Eat the best of the crappy-but-unprocessed supermarket stuff REAL Infrequently; -or really better yet: just not at all.
+++If it’s about Cost; Just swap 4x/week crappy-stuff for 2x/week grass-fed-organic.
And down near the Challenger Deep of the sea-monster Cthulhu:
FOR THE LOVE OF -GOD-! DO NOT EAT PROCESSED MEATS! -except for Applegate Farms.
-Even cold cuts
(check the label for Sodium NitrITE if you don’t believe me).
-OK, The only exception is Turkey (meat; not country); not usually processed with ATE/ITE.
(-**but it IS in most Turkey Bacon)
+And if you MUST
risk your sanity and meet the gaze of that insane sea-monster, I mean: eat processed meats for some FREAKING SUICIDAL reason, follow the NYT Advice on Vitamin C.
Now, One Last Thing:
Not to undermine all that^, but (admittedly-controversial UK wellness figure) Zoe Harcombe has gotten her hands on the expensive full study writeup.
She’s studied the data and come up with some interesting points that were glossed over or just plain missed.
Four of the most interesting are:
1) (As I theorized earlier) ALL bad health metrics increased as you went down the scale from lowest to highest red meat consumption; BMI, Alcohol consumption, Smoking, etc.
2) In both data-sets the 2 lowest red-meat-consuming groups actually had HIGHER risk of death than the middle-group. So, there is some conflation of factors (possibly including Red Meat Consumption Benefits) that is keeping these people alive a tiny bit longer.
3) Total Cholesterol DECREASED as you went from lowest-RM-consumers to highest. So, ~some type of cholesterol might actually seem Good for you. (they did not diff. between ldl/hdl/trigs)
4) The Headline Statistics quoted are based on a red-meat-consumption isolation that the studiers may not have been able to do accurately, & may ultimately end up a tenuous promise.
SO: IF in a strange, Multi-Directional, Silk-Purse-Surfing-JAWS-Sow’s-Ear-Tightrope-Trichotomy-Fandango,
you marry Zoe’s data-crunching, the bad-habit-clumping, the counterintuitive-middle-fifth, and the other ideas here,
I think the grand-total of what the Non-Freakonomic & Mystifyingly-Sensationalist Harvard study is saying is this:
“If you don’t give a crap about your health,
then there is at least a 12% correlation-coefficient that you don’t give a crap about your health.
+Oh, and also, not-giving-a-crap-about-your-health is highly correlated,
-with the opposite of health.
btw, people eat red meat.”
I’d like to thank The Academy, Milton Berle, Meryl Streep, Robert Towne for writing such a great script, Chris Nolan for doing yeoman’s work as a director…
All that said.
If you have the Discipline required to take Harvard at their word,
-then you probably also have the discipline (& hopefully the resources) required to take all the best precautions anyway,
So why not have your Red Meat & eat it, too?
-Just a thought.
Patrick Bateman from the movie “American Psycho” meme, by QuickMeme
“bacon”, by Andrew C, Nerdluv.org
Surfer at “Jaws” wave-set in Northern Hawaii, photographer unknown
Publicity Photo of “Monty Python and The Holy Grail”, by Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Python (Monty) Pictures, EMI Films, and Columbia Pictures
Corgi “What is this, I don’t even” wallpaper by 4Chan, via Buzzfeed: 54 Beautifully Offensive Wallpapers [NSFW]
“Suicide Underground”, by Simon
“Tour Eiffel 1”, by Arnau Galofré
• via: Neatorama
• More Coverage: Zoe Harcombe | LATimes | AIM-IMPORTANT VARIABLES MISSING IN RED MEAT STUDY | WCRF-Red Meat Cancer Prevention | NYT-Nitrites, Nitrosamines, Vitamin C | Wikipedia-Sodium Nitrite | Applegate Farms-Nitrates & Nitrites
• Source Study: AIM-Red Meat Consumption and Mortality, Results From 2 Prospective Cohort Studies