You’re an individual. That means, no matter what the latest study says, it may or may not apply to you since your body chemistry is unique and may react differently than what is reported. Most of us have (or know) some crazy uncle who smokes, drinks, and eats hamburgers daily and he just turned 95 and still there’s no sign of dementia, heart disease, cancer — nothing. (Why researchers don’t do studies on people like him, instead of the ones who get sick, I’ll never know.)

But, if you are trying to decide whether red meat is safe to eat, ou should know that the following seven red flags have been raised. Still, it’s up to you to decide. Is it worth it? How much is too much?

Reason 1: Red Meat May Increase Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Scientists believe when proteins called Tau and beta-amyloid accumulate in the brain they either disrupt nerve cells or kill them — and this may be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. A new study from UCLA, though, suggests that iron accumulation is another possible contributing factor. Using an unusual MRI technique, researchers found that iron had begun to accumulate in the brains of 31 Alzheimer's patients. Specifically, they discovered this build-up in a part of the brain which is generally damaged in the early stages of the disease. How does this connect to red meat? Well, it's full of iron, and a high-red meat diet can lead to iron build up. 

Reason 2: Red Meat Can Cause Cardiovascular Disease

Time and again scientists have demonstrated a connection between eating large amounts of red meat and an individual’s risk for heart disease. Now, a recent study suggests this link between red meat and disease does not derive from the saturated fats and cholesterol, but the fact that your gut microbes break down a compound found in the meat known as carnitine, which in turn produces trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). And TMAO has been associated with atherosclerosis, the fatty build-up in your arteries which in turn may cause a heart attack.

Reason 3: Your Risk of Colon Cancer Goes Up With Your Red Meat Consumption

Quite a few studies have provided evidence of red meat potentially causing colon cancer, and a U.S. study which involved 148,610 participants between the ages of 50 and 74 showed that a high consumption of red and processed meats substantially increased the risk of colorectal cancer. Fish and fowl, though, had the opposite effect: long-term consumption of large amounts of these appeared to ward off cancer of the colon and rectum.

Harvard says so.

Reason 4: Lots of Beef --> Type 2 Diabetes

According to recent research, red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and three extra servings of red meat every week increases the risk of developing diabetes by 50 percent. That’s a pretty disheartening statistic. And you thought it was the cake and ice cream that would get you.

Reason 5: Mad Cow Disease. Obviously.

Mad cow disease was first discovered in the United Kingdom in 1986 and after that, it blossomed into a full-scale epidemic, affecti g about 180,000 cattle over the next fifteen years. There is mounting evidence that it may cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which is not only fatal but kills you within fourteen months of diagnosis. So far, only three cases in the U.S. (227 worldwide) have been reported… but that number will eventually rise.

Reason 6: Meat Just Ain’t What It Used To Be

Unlike the steak mom and dad used to cook up on weekends, the meat you eat today has probably been pumped full of hormones to make it grow faster and antibiotics to prevent disease. Although such drugs have all been individually tested and approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), what has never been tested is whether these drugs may be harmful in combination. Meaning, in combination with all other chemicals and drugs you unknowingly absorb, breathe, and drink every day, including those in the air and those in the water. So whether or not an individual chemical, hormone or antibiotic has been proven to have a harmful affect or not, no one really knows what a combination of several chemicals, hormones and antibiotics will do to you.

Reason 7: Cows Are Nice

In all likelihood you drank their milk as a child and I'd bet anything your first coloring book had outlines of cows on its pages. Has a cow ever done one mean thing to you? 

I thought not.

 

Sources: Pan A, Sun Qi, Bernstein AM, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in Red Meat Consumption and Subsequent Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Three Cohorts of US Men and Women. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2013.

Raven EP, Lu PO, Tishler TA, Heydari P, Bartzokis G. Increased Iron Levels and Decreased Tissue Integrity in Hippocampus of Alzheimer’s Disease Detected in vivo with Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2013.