by Tommy Dean
Grilled during backyard barbecues, cooked for homemade meals, and ordered on the go at millions of fast food restaurants across the country, red meat is a mainstay in many Americans’ diets, but a growing body of scientific research released within the last year suggests that it may be the common thread in a slew of ailments that are at the root of the country’s health epidemic. While the animal agriculture industry may be quick to tout burgers and steak as tasty sources of protein, it’s increasingly clear that the food’s dietary detriments, which include cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, may warrant a warning label to caution the general public that they eat at their own risk.
Forkful of Chronic Disease
The country’s health status is at odds with the medical industry. As many fatal and life-threatening diseases are rendered obsolete with the development of vaccines, medications, and treatments, many residents continue to suffer from unprecedented levels of preventable health issues such as type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of 2011, approximately 23 million people in the US currently live with the condition while nearly 70 million are pre-diabetic. Type 2 diabetes can be partially attributed to genetics and a lack of physical activity, but it is also heavily influenced by diet. A review published this year by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that go-to barbecue fare such as pork and beef play a significant role in the disease’s proliferation. During the research, the Harvard scientists analyzed three separate studies that recorded a collective 150,000 patients’ dietary habits since the 1980s. The results revealed that eating an additional 1.5 ounces of the red meat every day increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by approximately 48 percent, which led them to the conclusion that reducing intake of the food is a key way to keep the chronic condition at bay: “Our results add further evidence that limiting red meat consumption over time confers benefits for [type 2 diabetes] prevention,” wrote the research authors.