Today in news to ruin your appetite, we now have even more evidence to suggest that increasing the amount of red meat you eat may be shortening your life. Researchers in China and the U.S. looked at questionnaires that had been filled out by a group of medical professionals every four years between 1986 and 2006. They excluded people who already had a history of heart disease, stroke, or cancer, since this could throw off the results, which left a total of 81,469 subjects. They specifically looked at how increasing your intake of red meat over a period of several years affected your risk of dying in the following years, and how replacing that red meat with a different protein like nuts, fish or poultry, or with vegetables, might make a difference.
What counts as red meat?
Looking at the questionnaires, the researchers counted a serving of 85g (3oz) of beef, pork or lamb, or a hamburger, as unprocessed red meat, and two slices of bacon, one hot dog, or 28g of sausage, salami or bologna (or a similar kind of pork) as a serving of processed red meat.
No word on what adding mac and cheese does.
What did they find?
The researchers found that increasing the amount of red meat people ate by half a serving a day for four years lead to a 20 percent higher mortality risk over the following four years. Outside of that narrow time frame, people who increased the amount of red meat they ate by a total of one serving a day had a 9 percent higher risk of dying from all causes.
Processed meats appear to be worse for your lifespan than unprocessed meats. While eating an extra serving of unprocessed meats a day increases your risk of dying by 5 percent, doing the same thing but with processed meats means a 17 percent increased risk of death.
It’s not just about what you cut out.
According to the study, adding nuts, fish, whole grains, skinless poultry, vegetables, dairy products and eggs while cutting down on red meat (especially the processed kinds) could actually lower your mortality rate.
The study is provoking mixed reactions online.
Some are ready to surrender to the health alerts:
I’m really trying to cut out red meat— Keisha Dena👑 (@KeishaDena15) June 13, 2019
With a little tough love from their friends:
If you see me eating red meat , beat me up , I was supposed to drop it in January on my dr sebi shit. Get yo friends to jump in— KB (@Kid_bash12) June 13, 2019
Not being able to cook (and the subsequent risk of food poisoning) helps:
But it’s hard:
I’m sorry to my vegetarian friends but I have tried so hard in the last year or so not to eat red meat (baby steps) but tonight I made myself steak for dinner and ho ho hoooo lemme tell ya, my body needed it— ☽kt☼ (@katie_macs) June 13, 2019
I gotta try this... it’s hard not eating red meat tho— King Royar (@RoyalFreshR) June 13, 2019
Trying to make a conscious effort to cut down on my dairy and red meat is hard man. 😓— 𝐉𝐄𝐍 ✨ (@jennieroberts22) June 13, 2019
On one side we have the converts:
No lie I can feel a difference in my energy and attitude since I've stopped eating red meat like dead ass— 🦋✨Cierra Symone ✨🦋 (@Alleyesonceeee) June 13, 2019
And then you have the red meat philosophers:
In this crucial question of your steak or your life, some already have an answer:
Agreed. Life without red meat, is a life unworthy of living— 𝙅𝙤𝙨𝙝’𝙒𝙖 𝙉𝙚𝙡𝙨𝙤𝙣 𝙎𝙧. (@JNeladelphia) June 13, 2019
They’re not gonna let science take away those delicious, delicious burgers:
If loving red meat is wrong, Kiki don't wanna be right, goddamnit! 😂— ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽🏳️🌈🖤🤎🤍💗💙 (@KikiFooFooo) June 13, 2019
Some people are taking the news with a helping of eye roll:
And a side of sarcasm:
BREAKING: Not eating red meat ensures promise of immortality.— Tomiko (@BigElito) June 13, 2019
And just a sprinkling of, er, “helpful” advice:
Before you freak out, know that even scientists are calling out this study.
Study from Harvard purporting to show red meat increases death. Derived from notoriously unreliable food-frequency questionnaires asking people. Plus, this is just a tiny association (not causation) that cannot possibly rule out confounding (eg., red-meat eaters smoke more, etc) https://t.co/CPGnWuIdUH— Nina Teicholz (@bigfatsurprise) June 13, 2019
Let’s be clear: This study doesn’t mean the next hot dog you eat is going to kill you — today or in four years. Humans are really bad at estimating how much of certain things we eat, which means data like this isn’t entirely reliable. Also, we can’t be certain that red meat and absolutely nothing else caused these people to die.
In addition, it’s important to note that those scary percentages only represent a relative risk. These results are looking at the overall effect of an action (eating red meat) on a large group of people — not at you specifically.
While previous studies have shown that eating lots of red meat — especially the processed kind — is bad for your health, you don’t need to totally panic.