Several people asked if I planned to take apart the latest “meat kills!” study to make a big media splash. In case you missed it, here’s part of one of the many, many articles about the study that hit the news:
A diet rich in meat, eggs, milk and cheese could be as harmful to health as smoking, according to a controversial study into the impact of protein consumption on longevity.
The overall harmful effects seen in the study were almost completely wiped out when the protein came from plant sources, such as beans and legumes, though cancer risk was still three times as high in middle-aged people who ate a protein-rich diet, compared with those on a low-protein diet.
You just know the vegan crowd loved reading those words. But let’s keep reading:
But whereas middle-aged people who consumed a lot of animal protein tended to die younger from cancer, diabetes and other diseases, the same diet seemed to protect people’s health in old age.
So there you have it: meat, eggs and other animal protein will kill you until you turn 65. Then the same foods protect your health. Since I’m already 55, I’ve decided I’ll keep eating meat, eggs and cheese and hope I manage to hang on for another 10 years – then I’ll increase my consumption of those foods to ensure I live to age 90.
That contradiction alone – animal foods can kill you until you reach the age at which most people actually die, then protect you – should be enough to convince you this is another piece of observational garbage.
But if you want a more thorough take-down of this idiocy, Zoe Harcomb already wrote one. Here’s a bit of it (and I’d suggest you read the whole post):
This is a direct quotation from the article (my emphasis): “Using Cox Proportional Hazard models, we found that high and moderate protein consumption were positively associated with diabetes-related mortality, but not associated with all-cause, CVD [cardiovascular], or cancer mortality when subjects at all the ages above 50 were considered.”
i.e. when we looked at the 6,381 over 50 year olds there was not even an association with protein intake and all-cause mortality, or CVD mortality, or cancer mortality.
There was a relationship with diabetes mortality and protein intake, but the numbers were so tiny (one death from diabetes in one group) that this was not considered important.
And that could have been the headline – “There is no association between protein intake and mortality” – but then there would be no headline.
One of those animal-protein foods that will kill you until you turn 65 and then save your life is the humble egg. I recently received an article about the importance of a nutrient that eggs provide: choline. Here are some quotes:
Choline plays a role in multiple physiological systems from all cell membranes to the function of organs like the liver. Choline produces a neurotransmitter involved in memory storage, muscle control and many other functions.
For more than five decades, nutrition science has known that choline is an important compound in the body. However, because humans have the ability to synthesize choline and our diets generally contain significant amounts of choline, it has been difficult to definitively show that choline is needed in the diet.
One of the first clear indications that the body does not make choline quick enough to meet the body’s own needs was recently demonstrated. When healthy men were fed a diet which was adequate in all known essential nutrients but very low in choline, the men developed liver damage. This indicates that even though the body can make choline, there is a dietary requirement as well.
Foods especially rich in choline include beef liver, with about 450 milligrams per 3 ounce serving, and eggs, with about 280 milligrams per egg.
So according to the latest observational nonsense, animal foods will kill you until you turn 65 … but at the same time, clinical research shows that choline is an essential nutrient, and the richest sources of choline are beef liver and eggs.
I vote we ignore the observational nonsense and eat our eggs. That won’t be a problem here on the mini-farm. Now that the chickens in our second flock have started laying, they’re producing more eggs than we can consume. I took this picture a week or so ago to demonstrate.
Then a couple of days ago, it occurred to Chareva to check the top level of the barn, which required climbing a ladder. This is what she found.
Another 60 eggs or so. Fortunately, with the cool weather, they’re still quite edible. Oh, and Sara will be taking delivery of 25 chicks soon as part of a 4-H project. So now she and Alana and Chareva are planning to open an egg stand by the road.
And I’ll keep eating eggs and other sources of animal protein way beyond age 65.