Experts question studies on the impact of eating more red meat

Experts question red meat research

A review of recent research concludes eating red meat may not be as bad as once thought. But not all experts agree.

The studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine conclude there's little to no effects from eating meat on illnesses like heart disease, cancer or diabetes. The controversial study also recommends consumers who eat as much as four servings a week can continue to do so.

Those results run counter to long established health guidelines to reduce the consumption of red and processed meats because of their links to cancer and poor cardiovascular health.

In a statement, the non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine called the results "misrepresentations" and said that there's abundant evidence linking red and processed meat to heart disease and "increased risk of premature death."

It also found the findings are a "major disservice to public health," and called on the journal to issue a public retraction. 

The American Heart Association called the conclusions of the study "questionable." 

"The American Heart Association continues to recommend that adults should eat an overall healthy eating pattern – full of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, lean protein and fish; Limiting foods high in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, and minimizing trans fats, sodium (salt), processed meats, refined carbohydrates and sweetened beverages. The overall picture is key, not just one food or food group," said Dr. Alice H. Lichtenstein, American Heart Association volunteer and Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

The results of the studies are not official guidelines nor are they endorsed by any government or health body. In fact, hundreds of leading doctors, scientists and nutritionists are calling the publication reckless and inaccurate. 

The research from these studies showed significant decreases in cardiovascular disease, cancer, mortality and diabetes with lower meat consumption. So this should not change current recommendations to eat a healthy, balanced pattern of food that is limited in red and processed meat.