Tabloid: “Eating meat is like smoking cigarettes”


Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet wins the prize for sensationalism for its headline after yesterday’s confused questionnaire study on meat: “Steak is as dangerous as smoking”.

A bit later in the article comes the most bizarre: the increase in risk only applies to people between 55 and 65. After 65 the cigarettes, I’m sorry – the steak, suddenly becomes a health food. Confused? Don’t be – read yesterday’s post for the details: Is It Dangerous to Eat Meat Before Age 65?

Funnily enough, the article includes comments from Dr. Dahlqvist and me on whether LCHF is dangerous or not. We address the two obvious issues:

  • LCHF is about – exactly what the acronym stands for – less carbohydrates and more fat, not necessarily more meat. You could even adopt a vegetarian LCHF diet, if you want.
  • Yesterday’s study is only based on questionnaires and imaginative statistics, no evidence.

When the researcher behind the questionnaire study, Valter Longo, hears my comment he gets “annoyed”:

Instead of criticizing a minor part of what we’re saying, they should look at 20 years’ of work that we’ve done in this area. The results are conclusive. If this was only about 6,000 people and statistics I’d agree with him, but this isn’t the case, he says.

So Longo agrees with me that his questionnaire study from yesterday doesn’t prove anything, but refers to a lot of other unspecified research.

The argument is familiar. In the absence of evidence some people will refer to “200,000 studies” or “20 years’ of work”. Unfortunately, this is fuzzy and suggests an inability to find real evidence.

As no one has the time to examine such claims, one can get away with just about anything.

I don’t doubt that Longo is convinced. But convincing others that meat causes cancer between the ages of 55 and 65 – and then suddenly after 65 is protective – will requires more than his word.

Reportedly, the author himself is a vegan. And the creator of a company selling meal replacements with small amounts of protein from vegetable sources only.

Moreover, apparently the association in the age group 55 to 65 was not something they were looking for, but dug up afterwards, when an association for the entire group was missing. Which gives the statistics even less weight.


Is It Dangerous to Eat Meat Before Age 65?

Swedish Tabloid Warns of “Low-Carb Cancer”


  1. Ton Wulferink
    You're right. But do not get aggravated. It will help them. ;-)
  2. charles grashow
    The title of the newspaper article maybe misleading but the study refers to protein
    Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population

    "Both high and moderate protein intake in the elderly were associated with reduced mortality compared to that in the low protein group, suggesting that protein intake representing at least 10% of the calories consumed may be necessary after age 65 to reduce age-dependent weight loss and prevent an excessive loss of IGF-1 and of other important factors."

    SO - the study isn't saying that high protein is necessary after age 65 at all

    Again - I ask - did you READ the study or just the article(s)??

    Replies: #3, #4, #7
  3. FrankG
    Clearly charles YOU are the one who is having trouble reading. What a waste of time.
  4. François
    The only reason I am taking the time to answer your snarky comment is for the sake of new readers who may not be aware of the rather dishonest way you present things . Yes, we did read the article. And we all realized it was worthless. Just read the previous post on the same subject and you'll find many detailed and well-thought arguments proving the study is crap. I'll repeat some of these comments in an abbreviated form here - thank you to all (Murray, Paul, FrankG and all the others) for sharing your thoughts on this). I'll expand on a few notions that were not discussed previously.
    A. It is based on NHANES III, a food questionnaire survey notoriously known to be fuzzy at the very best with a massive underestimation of caloric intake by people. Most people cannot remember what they ate yesterday, let alone remember in great detail what they ate every day in the past 6 months. "On average, subjects consumed 1,823 calories (Really??? In the US of America???), of which the majority came from carbohydrates (51%), followed by fat (33%) and protein (16%), with most of it (11%) derived from animal protein."
    B. All statistics were relative and not absolute. This is a common trick of the Parmaceutical Industry (Lipitor reduces the risk of cardiac deaths by 36% (relative) which means one in one hundred will be saved and 99 in a hundred will take the medication for absolutely nothing, with added side effects). I like Zoe's Harcombe's image. If you buy two lottery tickets instead of one, you will double your chances of winning (2.0 versus 1.0) - But in absolute numbers, your chances went from one in 14 million to one in 7 millions. Do you really think you have significantly improved your odds?)
    C. 51% calories from carbs is a typical American diet. Anything over 40% will do a number of things: it will wildly stimulate insulin, which in turn will also stimulate IGF-1 and decrease levels of IGFBP-3 (a hormone under the control of insulin wich orders cancer cells to commit suicide). As high levels of protein may also stimulate insulin and thus IGF-1, this may add somewhat to the effect of the very high level of carbs. And any carb level above 40% will also switch on the epigenome to inflammation (Brattbakk HR, Arbo I, Aagaard S, Lindseth I, de Soysa AK, Langaas M, Kulseng B, Lindberg F, Johansen B. Balanced caloric macronutrient composition downregulates immunological gene expression in human blood cells-adipose tissue diverges.. OMICS. 2013 Jan;17(1):41-52. doi: 10.1089/omi.2010.0124. Epub 2011 Jun 16.)
    D. Authors did not speak of the type of meat and lumped everything: considering the diet is 51% carbs, (a rather typical american diet) I can assure you as I live in the USA that the meat they are speaking of is highly processed meat (hot dogs) and hamburgers, salami and other processed junk, eaten with very sweet ketchup, french fries and washed down with massive amounts of sodas). NHANES III is about "typical Americans". Do remember: cancer is virtually nonexistent in traditional diets high in meat but extremely low in carbohydrates but soars as soon as these people take on the North-American diet high in carbs. Also remember that ancient Egyptians did not smoke, ate virtually no red meat and no junk food, but ate great amounts of wheat and sweets (honey and dates - they had a high incidence of heat and vascular disease as proven by the HORUS study)
    E. Authors "forgot" to consider confounding lifestyle factors and decided all their findings were caused by meat. But other authors, Pan, Sun et al., looked at this very fact in a study labout two prospective cohort studies: the Health Professional Cohort Study and the Nurses Health Study: in America, the more meat people eat, the more carbs they take, the more they smoke and the less they eat vegetables and exercise.(Arch Intern Med 2012;17297):555-563 - go meditate table 1)
    F. What is the effect of meat on health? IF you are speaking of processed junk filled with sugar and additives and eaten with white flour products, very detrimental. IF you are speaking of non processed meat from grassfed animals (or wild fish) the effect is protective and positive (these meats are then high in protective omega-3 and low in inflammatory omega-6)
    G. In fact, when you compare health-conscious vegetarians and meat-eaters, there is no difference betwen the two groups. Key and colleagues compared vegetarians and meat eaters who were clients of a health-food store, sharing the same healthy habits (no smoking, some exercise, eating vegetables). See Key TJ1, Thorogood M, Appleby PN, Burr ML. Dietary habits and mortality in 11,000 vegetarians and health conscious people: results of a 17 year follow up. BMJ. 1996 Sep 28;313(7060):775-9. Actually, meat eaters live as long AND are healthier: less anemia, no vitamin B12 deficiency, no vitamin D deficiency, less mental disease).
    H. Dr Longo, the lead author, is a convinced vegan and the founder of L-Nutra, a company that makes ProLon, a vegan low protein meal supplement. Maybe a bit of a conflict of interest here?
    I. Dr Levine in his mice study to make his point is either dishonest or shows a significant lack of knowledge of rodent physiology; as Paul has noted previously, casein protein causes inflammation in mice (but not in humans) whereas other proteins do not have this effect on rodent physiology. And in case you would not know, mice are not small furry humans with sharp teeth and long tails. They have a very different physiology and no dietary recommendation should be made on the basis of a rodent study (except a dietary recommendation for rodents).
    J. Strange nor the authors nor the tabloids insisted on the fact that the "high protein" group over the age of 66 had LOWER overall mortality and LOWER cancer mortality compared to the "low protein" group.
    K. I strongly suggest that you read John PA Ioannidis’s article… At . Ioannidis is one of the world's best epidemiologist's and scares his colleagues as he has demonstrated over and over again that their conclusions on observational studies are false 80% of the time. It is the nature of the observational study beast. (I recall an author who was so convinced that coffee drinking CAUSED cancer of the pancreas that he stopped drinking coffee. All subsequent studies proved that coffee was PROTECTIVE against cancer.

    So you may choose to believe the conclusions of a biased group of authors with a conflict of interest in a study based on a series of flawed nutritional questionnaires that are known to be blatantly wrong. I it makes you feel comforted, good for you. I'll stick to reality.

    But please, do remember that a mind is just like a parachute: it works better when it is open.

    Reply: #6
  5. Eric Anderson
    SO == if you worry about IGF-1 what can you do?

    1) Measure your level and see wat percentile and risk is associated with that level
    2) see what has demonstrated the ability to lower IGF-1 like
    A) intermittent fasting
    B) moderate animal protein
    C) Animal fat VS nut and seed Omega 6 rich oils

    Chill: Before age 65 the risk is low; relative risk is often misleading,

    Reply: #8
  6. Murray
    Nicely put. Quite a helpful summary. Thanks.
  7. FrankG
    Allow me to introduce myself... Wile E. Charles, Super Genius..! :-P

  8. sten
    Hi Eric,
    You missed the biggest modern contributor to high IGF- 1, or to low IGF- Binding Protein: Wheat. Our modern dwarf wheat that today is 99% of the wheat used, world wide, causing world wide epidemic of obesity and diabetes-2 while silly professors cannot even separate the meat from the wheat and sugar that is with it in a commercial hamburger. The wheat is the glue (gluten) that keeps the burger together and the sugar is there to make it (and all other processed food) last longer, and of course for taste for many and lastly cheap bulk.

    No other common food increase blood sugar faster or longer than modern wheat. The old did not. Then sugar was worst. When wheat is pressed into pasta BS increases less but lasts longer. Time x increase is around the same.
    High blood sugar means high insulin and immediate reduction of the protecting binding protein for IGF-1, increasing cancer growth, at all stages.

    Read Francois' excellent post above again!
    Please continue with Wheat Belly written by the eminent cardiologist William Davis who probably have saved more people from death of heart disease than any other doctor I know of have saved lives.

  9. Zepp
    To make a long story short.. it seems the problem is to draw the right conclusions of data is the real problem!?

    Soo.. it was a study of people on calorie reduced diet.. they didnt lose any weight.. but gain cancer!

    My conclusion.. dont go on a calorie reduced diet.. ad more fat!

  10. Paul the rat
    Enjoy your whole grain pasta with some greens throw in, trolls.

    Nutr Res. 2013 Sep;33(9):719-25. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2013.06.002. Epub 2013 Jul 23.
    Higher glycemic index and glycemic load diet is associated with increased risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma: a case-control study.
    Eslamian G1, Jessri M, Hajizadeh B, Ibiebele TI, Rashidkhani B.
    Author information

    1Students' Research Committee, Faculty of Nutrition Sciences and Food Technology, National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute (WHO Collaborating Center), Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
    Several studies have indicated the association between intake of foods high in dietary glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) with an increased risk of digestive tract cancers. We hypothesized that GI and GL may be associated with risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in a high-risk population in Iran. In total, we interviewed 47 cases with incident of ESCC and 96 frequency-matched hospital controls, then calculated the average dietary GI and GL via a validated food frequency questionnaire. Dietary GL was calculated as a function of GI, carbohydrate content, and frequency of intake of certain foods. Dietary GI and GL levels were significantly higher among the ESCC cases compared with the controls (P < .05). After adjustment for potential confounders, those in the highest tertile of dietary GI had 2.95 times higher risk of ESCC compared with those in the lowest (95% confidence interval, 1.68-3.35; P for trend = .002). In addition, being in the highest tertile of dietary GL was positively associated with an ESCC risk (odds ratio, 3.49; 95% confidence interval, 2.98-4.41; P for trend = .001).

    Findings of the present study indicate that diets with high GI and GL might have potentially unfavorable effects on ESCC risk and suggest a possible role for excess circulating insulin and related insulin-like growth factor 1 in esophageal cancer development.

    Reply: #12
  11. sten
    Longo referred to the China study. An already heavily debunked study, so no surprise.
    Denise Minger was referred to above. She is the math/stats specialist that debunked the China study, that in essence claimed more or less the same thing Longo now claims.
    Denis Minger showed that the data showed that wheat was much stronger associated with the primary modern disease, yes of course coronary heart disease.
    Read more about it by Stepang Guyenet here:
    Wheat is mentioned here even before Wiliiam Davis wrote his excellent summary of wheat as a primary cause of all modern diseases that exploded after 1985, the time the modern wheat was spreading world wide.

    The huge food companies will be very hard to give up their profitable business of selling combinations of low cost wheat, sugar and vegetable oil puffed up with taste enhancers for sometimes 20x manufacturing cost;
    Hence I for one expect many more attempts to confuse with studies just like this Longo study, pure disinformation as per excellent summary in #4 above.
    That many big food companies have major cross interests in big Pharma companies probably did not help at all when/if the connection with poor health was observed. If it was, is that a crime?
    Anyway in ILSI the common interests of pharma and food can often meet and new coordinated win-win plans be drawn up, time after time.
    I am so grateful to have found these blogs in time, before dementia started hitting me big time!

  12. sten
    Hi Paul.
    Wow, just great, but if you arrive there all is not lost!
    A friend of mine now 66 suffered from leg angina and after several checkups it was also established that he had hit the -jackpot he had also ESCC!
    Initially I thought this was the end of him, about 1.5 years ago. He had lost his wife in cancer 4 years before and both were moderately overweight and very enjoyable, so it was a bad day.

    Anyway he started treatment of the esophageal cancer and after a while they (luckily) realized chemo did not work. The tube between the stomach and the throat is the esophage, as I understand, and it was littered with cancer and they decided to remove the whole thing.
    It was a success and soon it was confirmed the cancer was gone, about a year ago.
    But this organ is doing more than just connecting two body parts. Apparently it promotes appetite hormones and without it my friend now need to be reminded daily to eat as he never gets spontaneously hungry any more! Great I said, it means that your leg angina probably will vanish once you aim the food intake a little lower until a new lower target weight is reached.
    Yes, and on all following check ups of the leg angina it has just become better and has now vanished!
    I suggested the operation as a healthy alternative to GPB, but it emerged that this is a very long and dangerous operation which requires opening from both front and back. Yet in his case a 2nd problem was solved through this most unusual positive side effect.
    But after all the high GI and GL caused both the leg angina and the ESCC, according to the above Iranian study, so it is much more effective to avoid wheat as soon as possible.

    Wheat also contains something that can cross the blood brain barrier and is called exorphins (think external endorphins) , substances that bind to the brains opiate receptors just like morphine does, and can be responsible for innocent things like night night grazing in the kitchen, but night after night.
    So modern wheat is a great product that even sells itself just like drugs and legal and unknown to the user! The info is from William Davis book, Wheat Belly. Soon to be banned?

  13. Paul the rat
    Longo (=Keys=Campbell) did not see this paper. Or did he.
    (is his brother goal-tending for Vancouver?)

    Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(1):77-87. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2014.851712. Epub 2013 Dec 10.

    Dietary patterns and prostate cancer risk: report from the population based ULSAM cohort study of swedish men.

    Ax E1, Garmo H, Grundmark B, Bill-Axelson A, Holmberg L, Becker W, Zethelius B, Cederholm T, Sjögren P.
    Author information

    Dietary pattern analyses have increased the possibilities to detect associations between diet and disease. However, studies on dietary pattern and prostate cancer are scarce. Food intake data in the Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men cohort was determined by 7-day food records. Adherence to a modified Mediterranean Diet Score (mMDS) and a low carbohydrate-high protein (LCHP) score were grouped as low, medium, or high in the whole study population (n = 1,044) and in those identified as adequate reporters of energy intake (n = 566), respectively. Prostate cancer risk was analyzed with Cox proportional hazard regression (median follow-up 13 years) and competing risk of death was considered. There were no associations between dietary patterns and prostate cancer (n = 133) in the whole study population. Among adequate reporters the mMDS was not associated with prostate cancer (n = 72). The LCHP score was inversely related to prostate cancer in adequate reporters, adjusted hazard ratios; 0.55 (0.32-0.96) for medium and 0.47 (0.21-1.04) for high compared to low adherent participants (P-for-trend 0.04). Risk relations were not attributable to competing risk of death.

    In this study, a LCHP diet was associated with lower prostate cancer incidence.

    Relations emerged in adequate reporters, underscoring the importance of high-quality dietary data.

  14. NS
  15. ivor cummins
    The study was a scientific sham and an engineering inference disgrace I did a quick analysis of their unpublished baseline datapack, and the study should never have passed the peer review process (never mind that the lead researcher had a whopping conflict of interest through being a founding member of a plant protein supplement company): have a look and see what you think.

    best regards

    Ivor Cummins

  16. Prometey Bezkrilov
    All these tabloid stunts have one thing in mind-Agenda 21 and along with it reduced consumption of meat and fat, so that you disappear from this planet a way faster, and in the process they are going to suck all your savings to "treat" you to your coffin.

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