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Red meat & mortality & the usual bad science – Part 2 – Life in the Low Carb Trenches

I blogged on March 12 2012 about this press release about an article in the  Articles of Internal Medicine published on the same day. The article now appears to be unavailable on free view.

On March 20, I emailed the author listed for personal correspondence ( with the following query:

Dear Dr Hu Please can you help me understand how the multivariate analysis was done in your study (

The raw data in table 1 shows the death rate falling – with Q2 and Q3 lower than Q1 in the HPFS and Q2, Q3 and Q4 lower than Q1 in the NHS. This is while exercise is falling and BMI, diabetes, smoking, calorie & alcohol intake were all increasing alongside red and processed meat consumption. I would have thought that once your multivariate analysis had allowed for these (and many other) variables to try to isolate meat consumption, the multivariate index would be substantially lower than my death rate line, which includes these risk factors. As a comparison, if I index my death rate for the HPFS is would be 1.00; 93.43; 97.70; 103.97 and 124.26 (doing the same 1.00 base line thing) vs. the multivariate index of 1.00; 1.12; 1.21; 1.25 and 1.37.

Many thanks Kind regards – Zoe

This is a recounting by Zoe Harcombe of how she discredited a clinical study publicized recently which claimed that red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality.  It is typical of these studies which pop up every now and then trying to poke a hole in the low carb diet approach.  In this one, the study was actually an observational study, in that it revealed different factors that varied as health issues (such as cancer mortality) varied.   They should only be used as a source of ideas for further research, not as advice that can be used by doctors or patients.  For this case, Zoe caught them red-handed and, as you’ll see in her story, they slouched away and refused to discuss her concerns.

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