Sunday, March 25, 2012

Meat, Money, and Marxism: More Bad News About Red Meat

Thomas Riggins

We have known for some time that having too much red meat in our diets has negative health consequences with respect to cancer and heart conditions. We also know that the meat industry goes out of the way to play down these risks as it is motivated by profits and not public health. As Marxists we also know that the only really effective way to protect the public from the negative consequences of the red meat diet is to demand that the government regulate and educate and that we must work towards expanding democratic control of the economy in order to achieve these ends.

New scientific evidence, recently released by the Harvard School of Public Health,
definitely shows that eating red meat increases mortality from both cancer and cardiovascular problems. The results of the Harvard study have been reported in ScienceDaily for 3-12-2012: "Red Meat Consumption Linked to Increased Risk of Total, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality."

This report also has some good news, which is that we can all lower our risks for these health problems by replacing red meat with nuts, legumes, fish and poultry (and of course a vegetarian diet would dramatically reduce these risks.)

An Pan, the main author of the report, is quoted as saying: "Our study adds more evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which has been associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers in other studies." The study followed thousands of people over two decades correlating their diets with disease incidents. The researchers found that eating processed red meat daily (e.g., two strips of bacon or a hot dog) increased your risk 20% (a daily serving of unprocessed red meat upped you risk 13%.) Cured red meat was thus 7% more deadly than uncured.

The report also found that those who replaced the red meat serving with fish, poultry, nuts, low fat dairy or legumes had a significant reduction in their risks of death. This led Frank Hu, a nutrition specialist and co-author of the report, to say, "This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death. On the other hand, choosing more healthful sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity and mortality."

So there it is. Limit red meat consumption in the interests of public health, and especially the health of children. Processed red meats as well as red meat in general should be regulated and reduced in school lunch programs (remember the Republicans in Congress want to classify pizza as a vegetable-- which shows the influence of the junk food industry) and in all other government food programs. The government should also undertake the making of public service announcements re healthy eating by the reduction of red meat.

The new USDA "food plate" simply has "protein" as one of its recommendations but no further recommendations such as less beef and more fish or other red meat substitutes. Beef should not be given equal time with chicken! In any event progressive politics goes hand in hand with progressive health advocacy and we can hope people will heed the warnings of science.

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