The scientific coin toss over the health benefits of red meat
I was a bit disappointed to learn the Nobel Prize in Medicine went to a trio of doctors who studied cells and oxygen levels, instead of the courageous scientists who made the earth-shattering discovery that red meat is good for you.
When you think about it, that 9 million kronor ($918,000 cash) award could have bought a lot of Big Macs — enough to feed the entire island of Manhattan and part of the Jersey shore.
Over the years, I’ve read my fair share of fake news, long before Donald Trump even invented the concept, but what troubles me even more than fake news is “fake science.” I just can’t get my head wrapped around it.
I’m not suggesting Galileo was wrong or that the sun revolves around the Earth ... although I like to keep an open mind on these issues. What troubles me is that for decades, I’ve heard the incessant chant from the medical community — echoed by my wife, kids, mother, doctor, pastor, financial adviser and younger sister, a doctor — that red meat will kill me. Therefore, I’ve eaten so much chicken and Popeyes Cajun wings over the past 25 years that I’m surprised I haven’t started clucking yet, although I could possibly be clucking in my sleep.
I’ve spent more money on ShopRite rotisserie chickens than I did paying for my four daughters’ college educations, and I’ve done this in the pursuit of good health, longer life, free flowing arteries and a robust heart. All because I’ve heard countless times that red meat will put me in the grave faster than I want to get there.
Now, along come 19 international doctors, who I assume have medical degrees from accredited schools and not from the Internet, who say that every shred of science used to justify the dangers of red meat was “flimsy at best.”
The authors of this study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, claim there’s nothing wrong with eating beef and pork.
So that I don’t misrepresent this landmark piece of questionable research, I will quote directly from the New York Post, which is my exclusive source of news about scientific advancements.
“The findings challenge previous studies and guidelines that have called for reducing red and processed meats in order to lower the risk of disease,” the Post said. “Previous studies have come to the conclusion that consuming less red and processed meats leads to lower rates of heart disease and diabetes and death from certain cancers.” And then, the kicker: “The panel suggests adults continue current processed meat consumption.” Pass me the pepperoni!
When I read that, I hurried down to Subway and got myself a gigundo Italian combo with salami, ham, provolone, bologna and other assorted delicacies, along with a complimentary container of Tic Tacs. For the first time in decades, I enjoyed myself.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life, however long or short it may be.
(Please excuse me for a few minutes because I need to take a break from writing this groundbreaking column so I can rush out to the Greek’s for two king-sized chili dogs smothered in real beef chili and served with a complimentary bottle of Pepto-Bismol.)
OK, I’m back, and I already feel the grease clogging my pores and arteries.
Even though this study is good news for people abstaining from red meat, it really makes me question scientific research. Will there be a study in a few weeks that concludes cigarettes are OK? That climate change is in the eye of the beholder? That tanning beds can add years to your life and skin? That saturated fat is a healthful thing? I don’t know what to believe.
This much I do know. I’ll be mighty angry if I see my doctor at the McDonald’s drive-up with his kids, buying a suitcase of Happy Meals for the holidays. On the other hand, after those years of abstinence, it’s time to celebrate with some McRibs.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.