Sometimes, science is a fickle bitch.
Okay, that’s not really true. Science is just fine. It’s steady and consistent. Science only ever really changes when you find yourself in weird corners of the universe like the event horizon of a black hole, or the quantum vacuum, or literally anywhere in the universe moving at relativistic speeds.
No, the real problem is us. It’s how we try to understand and interpret the science that’s fickle-y and sometimes bitch-y. Food and nutrition science, in particular. The healthfullness of eating red meat in particular-particular. And bacon, because… Frickin’ bacon.
What am I rambling on about this time? For a little while, the food-science and health boffins have been claiming, no decrying the potential hazards of consuming red and processed meats. Several years ago, some studies came out hinting at a possible link between consuming red and processed meats and certain types of cancer. Well, good ‘ol ‘Murica didn’t like that too much.
Ain’t no one gonna tell me I can’t have my steak, ya commie pinko!
The concern over these studies became so wide-spread, that even the World Health Organization even hopped on board by classifying red and processed meats as cancer-causing.
Dagnabit! Ain’t no Pentaverate-lovin’ new world order gonna tell me what t’do!
But then… (Dun-dun-dun….)
In a not-so-surprising twist, your occasional trip to Texas Roadhouse or your Sunday bacon and eggs may not be so bad after all. According to The Guardian, a series of papers published in the Annals of Internal Medicine calls into question the validity of the studies that spurred on the Great Red Meat Scare of 2015 in the first place. This new collection of studies/trials seems to show little to no increase in cancer risk. Additionally, the papers indicate that those studies used to justify the WHO’s move actually had a low to very low certainty of evidence. That means the proverbial ground those studies were standing on, was more like a crumbling cliffside over a deep pit of bullshittery.
Is this surprising?
Is this unique?
Does this mean I can go eat as much bacon and steak as I want?
Ummm… sure? I mean, you could technically do that before. It just wasn’t a good idea. And I mean it probably still isn’t. There is still the chance of making your heart violently explode in your chest like a xenomorph chest-burster from consuming too much red or processed meats.
The thing is, remember how I said our understanding of science is fickle? And how nutritional science is really fickle? Our understanding of what is truly nutritional for us in a healthy and pure way might just be one of the least-understood realms of science. At least on a detail level. This is because our understanding of this science is based specifically on people. And you may have noticed this, but people are generally less than entirely reliable. We lie, we cheat, we sneak around… And that’s just our eating habits.
I mean, the term “cheat day” is legitimately a thing for these exact reasons.
I imagine getting truthful and accurate data on people’s eating habits to be similar in difficulty to trying to get a group of twenty cats to all roll over and play fetch at the same time. Only harder.
But what does this new study really mean? In my non-nutritionist opinion, not a whole lot. Look, people have been eating red meat for millions of years. And we’ve been drying and curing it since probably about ten minutes after our paleolithic ancestors discovered fire and salt. Does this mean it’s the best thing for us? No, of course not. But what it does mean to me is that, unlike smoking or texting while driving, eating red and processed meats is probably not going to outright kill you. At least in the near term.
It’s like the old Oscar Wilde quote, “Everything in moderation. Even moderation.”
I look at it this way… Everything will give you cancer at some point because our bodies are kind of shitty machines.
I just can’t wait for the day when science says eating kale causes cancer.