Meat and cheese may be as bad for you as smoking

“Crucially, the researchers found that plant-based proteins, such as those from beans, did not seem to have the same mortality effects as animal proteins. Rates of cancer and death also did not seem to be affected by controlling for carbohydrate or fat consumption, suggesting that animal protein is the main culprit.”

 

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That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette. In a new study that tracked a large sample of adults for nearly two decades, researchers have found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet — a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.

“There’s a misconception that because we all eat, understanding nutrition is simple. But the question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days, but can it help you survive to be 100?” said corresponding author Valter Longo, the Edna M. Jones Professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute.

Not only is excessive protein consumption linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality, but middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources — including meat, milk and cheese — are also more susceptible to early death in general, reveals the study to be published March 4 in Cell Metabolism. Protein-lovers were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause within the study period than their more low-protein counterparts. They were also several times more likely to die of DIABETES.

But how much protein we should eat has long been a controversial topic — muddled by the popularity of protein-heavy DIETS such as Paleo and Atkins. Before this study, researchers had never shown a definitive correlation between high protein consumption and mortality risk.

Rather than look at adulthood as one monolithic phase of life, as other researchers have done, the latest study considers how biology changes as we age, and how decisions in middle life may play out across the human lifespan.

In other words, what’s good for you at one age may be damaging at another. Protein controls the growth hormone IGF-I, which helps our bodies grow but has been linked to cancer susceptibility. Levels of IGF-I drop off dramatically after age 65, leading to potential frailty and muscle loss. The study shows that while high protein intake during middle age is very harmful, it is protective for older adults: those over 65 who ate a moderate- or HIGH-PROTEIN diet were less susceptible to disease.

The latest paper draws from Longo’s past research on IGF-I, including on an Ecuadorian cohort that seemed to have little cancer or DIABETES susceptibility because of a genetic mutation that lowered levels of IGF-I; the members of the cohort were all less than five-feet tall.

“The research shows that a low-protein diet in middle age is useful for preventing cancer and overall mortality, through a process that involves regulating IGF-I and possibly insulin levels,” said co-author Eileen Crimmins, the AARP Chair in Gerontology at USC. “However, we also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid a low-protein diet to allow the maintenance of healthy weight and protection from frailty.”

Crucially, the researchers found that plant-based proteins, such as those from beans, did not seem to have the same mortality effects as animal proteins. Rates of cancer and death also did not seem to be affected by controlling for carbohydrate or fat consumption, suggesting that animal protein is the main culprit.

“The majority of Americans are eating about twice as much proteins as they should, and it seems that the best change would be to lower the daily intake of all proteins but especially animal-derived proteins,” Longo said. “But don’t get extreme in cutting out protein; you can go from protected to malnourished very quickly.”

Longo’s findings support recommendations from several leading health agencies to consume about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day in middle age. For example, a 130-pound person should eat about 45-50 grams of protein a day, with preference for those derived from plants such as legumes, Longo explains.

The researchers define a “HIGH-PROTEIN” diet as deriving at least 20 percent of CALORIES from protein, including both plant-based and animal-based protein. A “moderate” protein diet includes 10-19 percent of calories from protein, and a “low-protein” diet includes less than 10 percent protein.

Even moderate amounts of protein had detrimental effects during middle age, the researchers found. Across all 6,318 adults over the age of 50 in the study, average protein intake was about 16 percent of total daily calories with about two-thirds from animal protein — corresponding to data about national protein consumption. The study sample was representative across ethnicity, education and health background.

People who ate a moderate amount of protein were still three times more likely to die of cancer than those who ate a low-protein DIET in middle age, the study shows. Overall, even the small change of decreasing protein intake from moderate levels to low levels reduced likelihood of early death by 21 percent.

For a randomly selected smaller portion of the sample – 2,253 people – levels of the growth hormone IGF-I were recorded directly. The results show that for every 10 ng/ml increase in IGF-I, those on a HIGH-PROTEIN diet were 9 percent more likely to die from cancer than those on a low-protein diet, in line with past research associating IGF-I levels to cancer risk.

The researchers also extended their findings about HIGH-PROTEIN diets and mortality risk, looking at causality in mice and cellular models. In a study of tumor rates and progression among mice, the researchers show lower cancer incidence and 45 percent smaller average tumor size among mice on a low-protein diet than those on a high-protein diet by the end of the two-month experiment.

“Almost everyone is going to have a cancer cell or pre-cancer cell in them at some point. The question is: Does it progress?” Longo said. “Turns out one of the major factors in determining if it does is is protein intake.”

 

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304125639.htm

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GLOBAL HUNGER: THE MORE MEAT WE EAT, THE FEWER PEOPLE WE CAN FEED

There is more than enough food in the world to feed the entire human population. So why are more than 840 million people still going hungry?

The truth: The more meat we eat, the fewer people we can feed. If everyone on Earth received 25 percent of his or her calories from animal products, only 3.2 billion people would have food to eat. Dropping that figure to 15 percent would mean that 4.2 billion people could be fed. If the whole world became vegan, there would be plenty food to feed all of us””more than 6.3 billion people. The World Watch Institute sums this up rightly, saying, “Meat consumption is an inefficient use of grain””the grain is used more efficiently when consumed by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world’s poor.”

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It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of edible animal flesh. According to the USDA and the United Nations, using an acre of land to raise cattle for slaughter yields 20 pounds of usable protein. That same acre would yield 356 pounds of protein if soybeans were grown instead””more than 17 times as much!

Producing the grain that is used to feed farmed animals requires vast amounts of water. It takes about 300 gallons of water per day to produce food for a vegan, and more than 4,000 gallons of water per day to produce food for a meat-eater. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year.

It should be no surprise, then, that food for a vegan can be produced on only 1/6 of an acre of land, while it takes 3 1/4 acres of land to produce food for a meat-eater. If we added up all the arable land on the planet and divided it equally, every human would get 2/3 of an acre””more than enough to sustain a vegetarian diet, but not nearly enough to sustain a meat-eater.

On top of this the industrial world is exporting grain to developing countries and importing the meat that is produced with it, and thus farmers who are trying to feed themselves are being driven off their land. Their efficient, plant-based agricultural model is being replaced with intensive livestock rearing, which also pollutes the air and water and renders the once-fertile land dead and barren.

If this trend continues, the developing world will never be able to produce enough food to feed itself, and global hunger will continue to plague hundreds of millions of people around the globe. There is only one solution to world hunger – A vegan diet is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world’s most urgent social justice issue.

So the less meat you eat – the more people we can feed! Think about it.

Eating Less Meat Is World’s Best Chance For Timely Climate Change, Say Experts

Shifting the world’s reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is important, certainly. But the world’s best chance for achieving timely, disaster-averting climate change may actually be a vegetarian dieteating less meat, according to a recent report in World Watch Magazine. (While I’d happily nudge the world toward a vegetarian diet, the report authors are more measured and simply suggest diets containing less meat.)

“The entire goal of today’s international climate objectives can be achieved by replacing just one-fourth of today’s least eco-friendly food products with better alternatives,” co-author Robert Goodland, a former World Bank Group environmental advisor wrote in an April 18 blog post on the report.

A widely cited 2006 report estimated that 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions were attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs and poultry. However, analysis performed by Goodland, with co-writer Jeff Anhang, an environmental specialist at the World Bank Group’sInternational Finance Corporation, found that figure to now more accurately be 51%.

Consequently, state the pair, replacing livestock products with meat alternatives would “have far more rapid effects on greenhouse gas emissions and their atmospheric concentrations — and thus on the rate the climate is warming — than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”

The pair describe several areas related to anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gases that have been overlooked or underestimated. For example, livestock breathing. They explain:

[L]ivestock (like automobiles) are a human invention and convenience, not part of pre-human times, and a molecule of CO2 exhaled by livestock is no more natural than one from an auto tailpipe. Moreover, while over time an equilibrium of CO2 may exist between the amount respired by animals and the amount photosynthesized by plants, that equilibrium has never been static. Today, tens of billions more livestock are exhaling CO2 than in preindustrial days, while Earth’s photosynthetic capacity (its capacity to keep carbon out of the atmosphere by absorbing it in plant mass) has declined sharply as forest has been cleared. (Meanwhile, of course, we add more carbon to the air by burning fossil fuels, further overwhelming the carbon-absorption system.)

The human population is expected to grow by 35% between 2006 and 2050, while livestock numbers are expected to double during the same period.

“This would make the amount of livestock-related emissions even more unacceptable than today’s perilous levels,” states the report. “It also means that an effective strategy must involved replacing livestock products with better alternatives, rather than substituting one meat product with another that has a somewhat lower carbon footprint.”

Food companies, Goodland and Anhang believe, have at least three incentives to respond to current risks in their industry. The first is that companies already suffer from disruptive climate events — floods, hurricanes, etc. — and so it’s in their best interests to not worsen the situation.

Second, they expect the demand for oil to rise to point of collapsing “many parts of today’s economy.” One way in which this will be particularly troublesome for livestock producers will be that crops grown for feed will be refocused on biofuel sources.

A third incentive is to offer “alternatives to livestock products that taste similar but are easier to cook, less expensive and healthier, and so are better than livestock products.”

Sales of just soy “analogs,” or alternatives to livestock products — such as ice cream, milk and cheese — totaled $1.9 billion in 2007. That same year, sales of U.S. meat and poultry products totaled $100 billion — which they optimistically suggest means there’s much room for growth.

“Worldwide, the market for meat and dairy analogs is potentially almost as big as the market for livestock products,” they write.

Still further motivation, they note: “Meat and dairy analog projects will not only slow climate change but also help ease the global food crisis, as it takes a much smaller quantity of crops to produce any given number of calories in the form of an analog than a livestock product.”

Plus, meat alternatives  would help to alleviate the global water crisis, since livestock production uses a tremendous amount of water; it could have health and nutritional benefits; and, given that meat alternatives are more labor intensive, they would create both more jobs and more skilled jobs — while workers in the livestock industry could be retrained for jobs in meat-alternative industries.

“The case for change is no longer only a public policy or an ethical case, but is now also a business case,” write Goodland and Anhang. “We believe it is the best available business case among all industries to reverse climate change quickly.”

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/michellemaisto/2012/04/28/eating-less-meat-is-worlds-best-chance-for-timely-climate-change-say-experts/