Meat linked with diabetes?

A new study claims to link consumption of red and processed meat with increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Here’s why you should ignore it.

First, the study is more weak association epidemiology that is entirely inappropriate for studying chronic diseases:

  • T2D is too common a disease and the reported “increase in risk” is too small. Epidemiology is only appropriate for high “risks” of rare diseases. Keep in mind that epidemiology is not technically capable of determining “risk” in the first place.
  • No one knows what causes T2D. At the very least, it is multifactorial in nature — and competing causes (known and unknown) can’t be eliminated by waving a statistical wand. No case of diabetes in this study was medically attributed to meat consumption.
  • The time period between exposure and disease onset (more than 30 years in this study) is too long for determining cause-and-effect;
  • The reported statistical correlations between meat intake (on the order of RR=1.5) are well below the traditional epidemiologic threshold for reliability (on the order RR>2.0). They are most likely to be statistical noise.
  • The study’s meat consumption and other confounding risk factor data were self-reported. No one really knows how much meat (or anything else) any study subject actually consumed, or what their T2D risk factors actually were.

Although you won’t read the following in media accounts of the study, the authors were forced to acknowledge at the end of their write-up that:

… because of the observational nature of our cohorts, the observed associations do not necessarily mean causation; although we adjusted for established and potential risk factors for T2D, unmeasured and residual confounding is still possible.

Despite that acknowledgement, we have no confidence in the integrity of study authors Frank Hu, Walter Willet and Joanne Manson.

In our estimation, they seem to be more interested in grabbing headlines than doing good research — all the better to keep the grants coming from the incurably anti-meat National Institutes of Health.

8 thoughts on “Meat linked with diabetes?”

  1. If I read through all the filler correctly, they queried about 120 self identified T2D positives out of 200000 participants. Given the incidence rate they quote in the study (11%), there should be 22000 T2D cases in this group. I don’t want to run all the numbers, but given that, even their 1.5 RR looks high. But since their data is self selected, it really doesn’t matter.

  2. Whether it’s a good study or not, did it really take a grant funded research study to tell us that processed meats are bad news?!

  3. I got type II at 60 as a punishment for allowing my parents to get it at the same age. Ken is right. Bread (any bread) is murder on sugar levels. Meat doesn’t bother them.

  4. As a Type 1 Diabetic, I have found that cutting most complex carbohydrates from my diet and continuing to eat animal protien and fat has enabled me to use less insulin on a daily basis than I ever have. My blood sugar is stable for longer periods of time (A1C 6.4) and (not that I was fat) I went from 215 lbs to 198 lbs. Even though I have been trying, I also can’t get my overall cholesterol over 148.

  5. As a Type 2 Diabetic I have found meat to be better in controlling my blood sugar then bread. Just sayin!

  6. I heard a rumor that none of us are going to get out of here alive regardless of whatever we may or may not do! Any truth to that?

  7. Sounds like research funded by Sierra Club, PETA and a bunch of other vegetarian minded socialist liberal leftist Obama voters..

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