Another Reason To Cut Back On Red Meat
Men who frequently eat red meat may be putting themselves at increased risk for diverticulitis, a sometimes-painful condition affecting the digestive tract. Results from a new investigation including data on more than 46,461 male health professionals reveals that men who ate the most red meat had a 58 percent higher risk of diverticulitis than men who ate the least red meat. In diverticulitis, small pouches (diverticula) that develop in the wall of the colon become inflamed or infected. (The presence of diverticula is called “diverticulosis” and usually causes no symptoms.) The major symptom of diverticulitis is lower abdominal pain, but cramping or constipation can also occur. The data doesn’t prove that eating red meat caused diverticulitis. Instead, it documents an association between a high intake of red meat – more than 12 servings a week – and development of the condition. Men in the study who ate the least red meat averaged just over one serving per week. The higher risk seen remained after the researchers controlled for other factors known to raise the risk of diverticulitis including age, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and low fiber intake.
My take? Regular consumption of red meat has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. I don’t believe anyone needs to eat red meat to be healthy. We can get the protein and essential fatty acids we require from other food sources, such as wild-caught, cold-water fish; free-range, omega-3 rich eggs; and tofu, beans and nuts. If you do eat red meat, less is better than more, and organically raised is preferable. The World Cancer Research Fund International suggests limiting red meat consumption to 18 ounces a week.
Yin Cao and Andrew T. Chan et al, “Meat Intake and Risk of Diverticulitis Among Men.” Gut, January 9, 2017, doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2016-313082
Also in this week’s bulletin: