An NIH study reports that among men and women over age 50, those who ate 1/4 lb. red meat (including pork) per day increased their risk of death by 30% and their risk of cancer by 20% when compared to those who ate less (1.5 oz per day) red meat. Women followed in the 10 year study fared worse than men – those who ate red meat increased their risk of death from heart disease by 50% (compared to 27% among men, which is still considerable).

This study doesn’t tell us anything new and may not even be generalizable to the public. First, study participants were between the ages of 50-71 and it is certainly true that many of those who died during the course of the study died of genetic diseases, cancer, or other conditions completely unrelated to their meat consumption. Second, I would venture to guess that the average red meat eater habitually consumes more that 1/4 lb. of red meat per day – which seems like an arbitrarily small amount, doesn’t it? Lastly, study participants reported meat consumption via surveys – as anyone with health research experience knows, self-reporting is notoriously faulty, especially on the subject of food and diet. Also, the study did not take into account any other dietary habits besides meat consumption.

So, what does this study prove? Certainly not causality between meat and mortality. Once again, it looks like red meat is as mysterious as ever.

“Meat Intake and Mortality” [Archives of Internal Medicine]
“Women Who Eat Meat” [The Daily Beast]