The Roundup

Roundup

Here is The Roundup, Edition 3. This week I’m focusing on articles and blogs that address the recent red meat scare, so that my readers will have a good link to share with friends and family who are worried about red meat, TMAO, and their risk for heart disease. As a reminder, I’ve also put together a red meat special report to help consolidate all the research I’ve done on the health benefits of red meat. This page has a list of all of my articles on red meat, along with supporting articles by other bloggers, as well as resources for buying high quality meat products.

If you’re still concerned about eating red meat, I encourage you to carefully read the following articles in order to better understand what this research does (and doesn’t) tell us about TMAO and heart disease risk.

The Roundup: your go-to for all the best articles on the red meat and TMAO scare.Tweet This

The one TMAO article you must read

While I did write an article last week explaining the fallacy of the red meat scare, my favorite critique of the study is Chris Masterjohn’s thorough analysis of the report, even providing data on TMAO production by various other foods. (For example, halibut generates 107 times as much TMAO as red meat… Oops!) Chris and I both agree that the majority of epidemiological evidence fails to show an association between fresh, unprocessed red meat and heart disease.

“The problems with this study and its portrayal in the media are the often-times incomplete reporting of data in the paper and the wild runaway inferences published all over the press, particularly the conclusion that red meat contributes to heart disease by generating TMAO, and the even stranger notion that we should eat less red meat for this reason.” – Chris Masterjohn

The idea that red meat increases TMAO, and that TMAO causes heart disease is not even remotely supported by the data in this paper—as Chris has expertly made clear. His article is (not intentionally) a scathing indictment of the status of medical science and peer-review. With all due respect to the authors, this paper should not have been published in its current form. And I wish the New York Times would have done more due diligence before sensationalizing the report into a story that further scares the American public away from eating meat.

TMAO Research Report

  • Larry Husten, a medical journalist at Forbes.com, saw through the TMAO-red meat nonsense and explains why we should never believe health headlines.
  • Mark Sisson comments on the suggestion that red meat is still the primary cause of atherosclerosis, heart disease, and your impending doom.
  • Paul Jaminet gives another in-depth explanation as to why your risk of heart disease is greatly dependent on the health of your gut flora.
  • Adele Hite puts a humorous spin on the epidemiological evidence that fails to support the theory that eating red meat increases your risk for heart disease.
  • Jeff Leach dives even further into the role that gut health plays in the conversion of carnitine to TMAO.
  • Anthony Colpo writes his own searing criticisms about the TMAO study, reminding us again that correlation does not equal causation. (Warning: contains adult language.)
  • Just as carnitine was being lambasted by the mainstream media for its proposed role in causing heart diseae, a randomized trial demonstrated that L-carnitine supplementation was associated with 27% decrease in death, 65% decrease in ventricular arrhythmias, and 40% reduction in angina following a heart attack. It’s possible that a nutrient could both contribute to and prevent health problems (iron and calcium come to mind), but this study should remind us that “nutritional reductionism” (where we blame health or disease on a single nutrient) almost always goes awry.

For the Foodies (Red Meat Edition!)

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  1. John says

    That Adele Hite article is awesome. “With evidence like that, who needs evidence?”

    By the way Chris, if you have more links to the double edged swords that are Iron and Calcium, I’d love to read them. I’ve been reducing my serum ferritin ever since it came back pretty high (mainly through blood donation). Is too much calcium ever a worry if you haven’t taken calcium supplements?

  2. says

    Gotta say, I loved Colpo’s take on the red mead story. Some people don’t like his way of writing, but if you look beyond that you’ll see how the scientific content of what he was saying was sound.

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