You only have to glance at the chart above to get a clear picture of what is killing us. Cancer has tripled in 110 years and heart disease is the number on cause of death. Diabetes & Alzheimer’s are also moving their way up the ladder.
The common link to all these diseases is Nutrition. The Western Diet, focused primarily on animal protein and fat is more of an epidemic than anything this world has ever seen.
Health officials increasingly point to animal protein as a cancer and heart disease risk that Americans should be limiting.
A recent study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers have found that red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality.
During the study, researchers looked at the data of 121,342 men and women over a 20-year period. Their eating and diet habits were questioned and after two decades, 23,926 deaths were recorded, including 5,910 from heart disease and 9,364 from cancer.
Scientists claim they found a striking link between red meat consumption and premature death. When the deaths were divided into specific causes, researchers discovered that eating any kind of red meat increased the chances of dying from heart disease and cancer by 21%.
This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death,” said Hu. “On the other hand, choosing more healthful sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity and mortality.”
NPR recently did a poll regarding meat consumption in the U.S.*
The majority of those polled (56 percent) said they eat red meat (defined as all meat products except poultry and fish) one to four times per week, and nearly the same number (55 percent) say their meat intake hasn’t changed in the past three years. But 39 percent said they eat less meat than they did three years ago.
That’s a significant number of people who’ve cut back, says Dr. Ray Fabius, Chief Medical Officer for Truven Health Analytics. Only 6 percent said they increased their meat consumption in the past three years.
“American culture has been a meat-and-potatoes culture for a very long time,” Fabius tells The Salt. “Now we’re in a period of believing that intake of meat should be reduced in this country; we’re talking about a generational transition.”
Among those who are eating less meat, 66 percent said they’re worried about the health effects; 47 percent said cost is a factor, while 30 percent were concerned about animal welfare, and 29 percent have limited their meat intake out of a concern for the environment.
Robert Lawrence, professor of environmental health sciences and director of the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, says this is consistent with what he found when he asked people in 2002 why they might eat less meat. “Health concerns still remain the No. 1 reason people might consider cutting back on meat,” says Lawrence, who helped launch the Meatless Monday initiative.