Meat Avoidance “Not Backed By Good Scientific Evidence”

“The certainty of evidence for these risk reductions was low to very low.” – Annals of Internal Medicine

Oct. 1, 2019

| New York Times – Public health officials for years have urged Americans to limit consumption of red meat and processed meats because of concerns that these foods are linked to heart disease, cancer and other ills.

But on Monday, in a remarkable turnabout, an international collaboration of researchers produced a series of analyses concluding that the advice, a bedrock of almost all dietary guidelines, is not backed by good scientific evidence.

If there are health benefits from eating less beef and pork, they are small, the researchers concluded.

Indeed, the advantages are so faint that they can be discerned only when looking at large populations, the scientists said, and are not sufficient to tell individuals to change their meat-eating habits.

“The certainty of evidence for these risk reductions was low to very low,” said Bradley Johnston, an epidemiologist at Dalhousie University in Canada and leader of the group publishing the new research in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The new analyses are among the largest such evaluations ever attempted and may influence future dietary recommendations.

In many ways, they raise uncomfortable questions about dietary advice and nutritional research, and what sort of standards these studies should be held to.

Already they 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.

Some 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 …” Read more. 

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