Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editor's Choice

Red meat: another inconvenient truth

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 11 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2278

Rapid Response:

Re: Red Flag against Red Meat!

There were innumerable studies showing cooked meat eating is not good for health. Most of them were rubbished as lacking in research vigour! The meat industry must be at it. Nothing survives in this wonderful world that does not support the money bags. Even the most irrelevant studies are hailed as well done if they support a big industry. This can easily be done as most medical research is statistical and, therefore, without sense. (Steven Milloy-Statistics, science without sense).

Let us learn science from nature as I deem it as the best science. Natural meat eating animals like the tiger, cat and dog have a totally different anatomy and physiology compared to us. Two vegetarian animals--man and elephant--have straight legs vis-à-vis the meat eaters who have bent legs enabling them to outrun their prey for food. Man and elephant are vegetarians and their food does not run away for them to chase them. Meat eaters do not eat cooked meat. We and our domesticated animals eat cooked meat and drink another species’ milk also almost halving our life spans. Meat eaters have elongated face with prominent canine teeth to dig deep into their prey’s flesh. We have flat face and prominent molar teeth to grind vegetable fibre. Vegetarians have a long gut while meat eating animals, however big they are, have a comparatively very short gut length to throw away meat products out of the system as soon as possible.

“When the muscles of mammals, fish, or birds are cooked at high temperatures carcinogenic chemicals called heterocyclic amines are created that may increase the risk of breast, colon, lung, pancreatic, and prostate cancer”, writes Michael Greger. Eating boiled meat is probably the safest. Studies show if you eat meat that never goes above 212 degrees Fahrenheit, both your urine and faeces damage DNA significantly less than if you eat meat dry cooked at higher temperatures. In nature meat eaters never cook their meat!

With these in mind this week’s BMJ editorial makes lots of sense supported by the study published in the same issue (doi:10.1136/bmj.j1957 BMJ 12th May 2017). Dr. Potter’s comments in the same issue add support to my thesis. “Overconsumption of meat is bad for health and for the health of our planet,” he says. The study suggests that haem iron in red meat and nitrate/nitrite in processed meat are among the culprits. But Potter says that the ill effects are likely to be caused in many different ways, including carcinogens caused by cooking, contaminants in animal feed, and reduced intake of plant based foods.” (doi:10.1136/bmj.j2190 BMJ12th May 2017)

We probably became meat eaters during our hunter-gather days but our meat consumption then was very small. The modern western diet contains lots of meat and our energy seems to come mainly from meat. This not only depletes human health but also the overall health of our planet. Let us wake up before it is too late. Those of us who think that meat protein is essential for health should try to beat an elephant which does not get meat protein at all. Two plus two need not always be four in human health and science in general where uncertainty rules the roost. Let us learn science from nature instead of using science to teach nature a lesson or two!

Yours ever,

Competing interests: No competing interests

15 May 2017
BM Hegde
Retd Vice Chancellor
Mangalore-575004, India