Why Your Doctor May be Wrong about Meat


Doctors are most people’s source for health and nutrition information. But no one really asked where they get their information from? Could it be from what they pick up in mainstream media? Or it is something in a journal somewhere? The fact is that the medical community as a whole is throwing around some wrong assumptions which could be one of the reasons for the health crisis we are in today. This is not to say that doctors are not trying to help people, but just that most of them probably took one basic course on nutrition in medical school and that was it!

When it comes to meat, it has gotten a bad reputation. But like many things it based on false assumptions and only one set of conditions. When scientists needed a reason for the increased heart diseases back in the 1950s, they found their scape goat….meat. Using the same rationale I could say use of automobiles is up since then too, so cars cause cancer….but see how ridiculous that sounds?

Let’s see the 2 biggest opinions probably most in the medical community still hold on to….and why they could be wrong and actually make you sicker in the process

In 1965 an influential physician, Ernst Wynder, took the data for the mostly processed vegetable oils, called them animal fat (which they were not) and compared them with worldwide colon cancer mortality. The table he produced showed high rates of colon cancer in European countries and low rates of colon cancer in Japan, and concluded that there was a positive effect, in other words, that saturated fat, the kind found in beef, caused colon cancer. What the data actually showed was that consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils, not saturated animal fats, was associated with the incidence of colon cancer.

Two American studies conducted in the 1990’s have found a higher risk of colon cancer among those who eat red meat. However, no study done in Europe has ever shown an association between meat consumption and cancer. This suggests that European sausage and luncheon meat, included in the rubric of “meat consumption,” are prepared by traditional methods that require few additives, while the similar products in the United States contain many carcinogenic preservatives and flavorings.

In 1975, Rowland Philips compared Seventh-Day Adventists physicians, who do not eat meat, with non-Seventh Day Adventist physicians, and found that the vegetarian doctors had higher rates of gastrointestinal and colon-rectal cancer deaths.10 National Cancer Institute data show that Argentina, with very high levels of beef consumption, has significantly lower rates of colon cancer than other western countries where beef consumption is considerably lower. A 1997 study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that increased risk of colon and rectal cancer was positively associated with consumption of bread, cereal dishes, potatoes, cakes, desserts and refined sugars, but not with eggs or meat.

Actually, we know one of the mechanisms whereby colon cancer is initiated, and it does not involve meat per se. Colon cancer occurs when high levels of dietary vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats, along with certain carcinogens, are acted on by certain enzymes in the cells lining the colon, leading to tumor formation. This explains the fact that in industrialized countries, where there are many carcinogens in the diet and where consumption of vegetable oils and carcinogens is high, some studies have correlated meat-eating with colon cancer; but in traditional societies, where vegetable oils are absent and the food is free of additives, meat-eating is not associated with cancer.

The most likely causes of increased heart disease in America are the other changes in our diets-huge increases in consumption of refined carbohydrates and vegetable oils, particularly hydrogenated vegetable oils; and the decline in nutrient levels in our food, particularly minerals and fat soluble vitamins-vitamins found only in animal fats.

Myth: Heart disease in America is caused by consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat from animal products.

Truth: During the period of rapid increase in heart disease (1920-1960), American consumption of animal fats declined but consumption of hydrogenated and industrially processed vegetable fats increased dramatically. (USDA-HNI)

The only claim that can be made against beef as a cause of heart disease is that some studies have shown beef consumption to temporarily raise cholesterol levels in short term feeding experiments. Other studies have shown that beef consumption, including beef fat consumption, lowers cholesterol levels. But even if all studies show that beef consumption raises cholesterol levels, the only conclusion you can draw is-so what? There is no greater risk of heart disease at cholesterol levels of 300 than at 180, and people with cholesterol levels below 180 are at greater risk of death from other causes, such as cancer, intestinal diseases, accidents, violence and suicide.5 In other words, it’s much more dangerous to have cholesterol levels that are too low than cholesterol levels that are too high.

As for the Vegetarians who say they are healthier without meat…..

The annual all-cause death rate of vegetarian men is slightly more than that of non-vegetarian men (.93% vs .89%); the annual death rate of vegetarian women is significantly more than that of non-vegetarian women (.86% vs .54%) (Am J Clin Nutr 1982 36:873)

If you choose a lifestyle of eating based on values, that is your choice. However if you are choosing one based on health, then you need to know all the facts. Know what are the real reasons for ill-health, and then make your decisions based on that. Meat is not the bad guy, medical is just “guessing” at best (remember that whole “low fat” craze that now the mainstream medical community is saying was maybe not a good idea….yup, they guessed wrong…Oops).

Ok this is not supposed to be some doctor bashing article (as I know they are trying to do what is right, but just misinformed), but instead a positive move we all need to make if we all want the medical system to get better. It’s broken right now, there is no doubt about it. Emergency care may be the best we have ever seen, but our long term care is in trouble. With escalating rates of obesity, diabetes, arthritis, cancers and everything else we need to take action where it counts, in getting people to focus on a proper lifestyle of prevention including nutrition and exercise. Doctors are overwhelmed with patients nowadays and don’t even have but 5 minutes to talk, diagnose and move on to the next person. They are being overwhelmed and need our help! So it’s time for YOU to help and teach your doctors something!

Ok to sum up the point of all this:

For even more reading you can go to Weston Price’s site (where the quotes above were taken from) and read as much as you like. Also this particular article “Myths & Truths About Nutrition” is a great short read.

It’s your health, time to take charge for yourself as your doctor may be misinformed. Take time out to look around and maybe we will all start to really see why our health is getting worse by the day.

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