My friend Carl emailed me this yesterday, which I asked permission to republish. I was taken aback by yesterday’s headlines. After all, I just discovered Hungarian sausage, which is even better than German Summer Sausage (I know, I couldn’t believe it, either, but it IS! Garlicky goodness mixed with a smoky final note flavor — put that on dark rye with some sharp white Vermont cheddar and that could be my last meal on death row!).
I admit to an allergy to math, so Carl took a deep dive into these numbers and got to the truth behind the hype yesterday. Without further adieu, here are his comments:
Unless you’ve been under a rock today, you’ve heard, seen or read that the world is coming apart at the seams. “Meat causes cancer!” is all over the news. Quick, hide the women and children. Break out the broccoli. Toss out the Weber. Run for your lives…!
Ummmm. Wait a minute. How about the data? Got any?
I dug into the numbers beyond the headlines. What really bothered me was that almost no one was reporting facts; just hype and innuendo.
It took some doing, but a few reporters actually went past the headlines. Here’s a bottom line that may surprise you. (Italics are my addition)
(Source: Tom Chivers, UK) According to Cancer Research UK, 64 people out of every 100,000 can expect to develop colorectal cancer per year (btw lower in US/CDC: 57).Taken crudely, the IARC’s report suggests that eating 50g of bacon every day would raise your risk from 64 in 100,000 to 72 in 100,000, or from 0.064% to 0.072%. Over a lifetime, your risk is about 5%, according to the NHS; eating 50g of processed meat a day will raise that to about 6%. ( A ONE PERCENT INCREASE!)
For comparison, research on smoking and cancer found that men who smoked 25 cigarettes a day were 24 times higher risk of developing lung cancer, or a 2,400% increase. (End of source)
2,400% vs 1% yet they compare steak to cigarettes. Is this good public policy?
This is using THEIR DATA. Also, they did ZERO studies of their own. They compiled data from 800 previously existing epidemiological studies. Collating these wildly disparate studies, even with IBM Watson, is a huge undertaking. Even if done without bias (unlikely), many of the 800 studies are, by themselves, “quasi-science,” which is the nature of epidemiological studies.
Lots of headlines for not a lot of fact. Again I ask: Is this good public policy?
One more thing. Their findings on RED MEAT (beef, pork, and lamb) were COMPLETELY INCONCLUSIVE, but they lumped it in with processed meat for good measure. Guilt by association with no definitive link. No data to definitively support a link to fresh red meat but somehow it’s the new tobacco.
No one is suggesting you live on Slim-jims or bratwursts, but pulling the fire alarm on all red meats smacks of an agenda.
Can you say “Bad Science”?
What say you, my friends?