Sunday, March 29, 2009
I just finished a liverwurst sandwich (delicious with dijon mustard and sliced purple onion); it was 'to die for' but not exactly my definition of health food. Imagine my dismay when to die for took on a more literal meaning as I opened the March 23rd issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine to this headline news: "Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people."(1)
So what do 500,000 meat eaters have to teach us about the guilty pleasure of a liverwurst sandwich? Namely that the consumption of red meat and processed meats (and liverwurst, while not red, is oddly pink in a processed, not-found-in-nature sort of way) is associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality.
In other words, too much meat and you're so much dead meat. My sandwich sits like a guilty lump in my stomach. An accompanying editorial goes on to indict me further: "Far too few clinicians speak out on topics such as this. What the public hears is the side of the profession that is preaching vegetarian diets and not the side of the profession that is discussing moderation as a healthy option." So I'm telling you now, the very occasional processed meat treat may be good for your soul, but mostly you should emulate my favorite dinner--which I had last night--namely a bowl of Bear Naked Granola.
And just to further fuel my discomfort with meat, I have just ordered "Dying for a Hamburger: Modern Meat Processing and the Epidemic of Alzheimer's Disease" wherein the authors make a case that Alzheimer's Disease is spreading like an infectious disease which, per them, is carried in cow meat meals contaminated by prions, the proteinaceous particles associated with mad cow disease. Lovely. I'll let you know if this sounds cutting edge or lunatic fringe.
1) Arch Into Med. 2009 Mar 23;169(6):562-71.