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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

A Welcome Study

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

In times like the present, where everything seems to be political, I’m skeptical of a lot of the daily news I receive. Call it fake news or miscommunication. 

Here at the Roundup, we try to be very careful to see our readers get only truthful articles, something we take great pride in. There are some issues out there where we don’t quite know what the truth really is, such as the causes of climate change, anything political or if unprocessed meat is bad for you.

I mention unprocessed meat because with the farm bill discussions starting, after it is approved, the government comes out with its approved foods. It takes a lot of lobbying by livestock organizations to get unprocessed meat on the plate. 

To my delight, I came across a scientific article on how unprocessed meat was healthy to eat. We’ve all heard and read how meat studies were influenced by animal rights activists and those who just want plant-based food on the menu.

An article by Ross Pomeroy did a good job of explaining the past studies of meat. As we realize, a number of those studies have been linking red meat consumption to health problems like heart disease, stroke and cancer for years. 

Pomeroy must be a meat eater, but he has this study where he says, “Nearly all the research on red meat is observational, unable to tease us causation convincingly. Most are plagued by confounding variables. For example, perhaps meat eaters simply eat fewer vegetables, tend to smoke more or exercise less. Moreover, many are based on self-reported consumption. The simple fact is people can’t remember what they eat with any accuracy. And lastly, the reported effect sizes in these scientific papers are often small. Is a supposed 15 percent greater risk of cancer really worth worrying about?”

While Pomeroy has a point, I’m not totally sure I agree 100 percent with his reasoning. But knowing some past red meat studies are biased  – written by vegetarians or animal rights activists – we do need to be careful.

In this study or unprecedented effort, scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) scrutinized decades of research on red meat consumption and its links to communicate health risks in the process. Their findings dispel any concerns about eating red meat. 

The scientists found weak evidence of association between unprocessed red meat consumption and colorectal cancer, breast cancer, type two diabetes and ischemic heart disease. Moreover, the scientists found no evidence of an association between unprocessed red meat and ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke.

The researchers came up with the burden of proof risk function, a novel statistical method to quantitatively “evaluate and summarize evidence of risk across different risk-outcomes pairs.” Using the function, any researcher can evaluate published data for a certain health risk.  

The method computes a single number translating to a one-through five-star rating system. When the IHME utilized this function on red meat consumption and its potential links to various adverse health outcomes, they found none warranted greater than a two-star rating or a zero to 15 percent health risk.

There was evidence of a health risk from eating too few vegetables. The risk of a high-meat diet was those meat calories are displacing vegetable calories. 

So, another study on meat, this one I most likely agree with. I’ve always thought a well-balanced diet with red meat and vegetables is best.  

And no, beer is still not a food group. 

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