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Friday, 8 March 2013

Diets of Processed Food Shorten Life Expectancy?

Last night, I sat in a restaurant toying with the idea of just ordering (for a change) a simple beefburger.  I thought of the processed food story and decided I couldn't give a duck about that... then I looked straight at the "BEEF" word and thought... I bet it isn't.  It's pony isn't it :-(
I worry about the ethics of eating old beat up equines!
...But what about the processed food story?  Would I die if I ate a beefburger... like, more than if I chose a steak?  Well the media have decided you will.  The story is everywhere!
So I read the actual paper "Meat consumption and mortality – results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition".  What does it show? Well its got masses of fancy statistics in it, but basically there is a simple correlation between the amount of process food you eat and your life expectancy... but the bad way around as the title of this blog implies!   ...but it is just a correlation! [i.e., it definitely does not mean that the processed food caused the deaths].  That means that if the people that eat lots of processed food are more likely to do other unhealthy things (like NOT eating vegetables) that other thing could be the cause of the premature death.  On page 23 of the initial PDF release of their paper/article they confess that they could not exclude the possibility that the people who eat more processed meat are more likely to smoke... and thus the real reason there appears to be an early death could be due to smoking.  So the whole thing is pretty much a waste of time.  I daresay processed food is not terribly healthy, but there are other key things that would probably make more difference.  The balance of the diet, i.e., do you eat veggies too! ....the fat content, high fat usually precipitates heart disease.  Drinking too much and smoking of course.
Gosh, why can't we get the same publicity to real science :-(

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