Is All Red Meat Bad For You? (Spoiler Alert: No, It's Not)

Despite the alarmist headline in the Los Angeles Times admonishing, "All Red Meat Is Bad for You, New Study Says," I'm taking no less pleasure in having a freezer full of venison. Beyond the headline, the article reads like a scare tactic, threatening imminent death on anyone daring to eat a filet mignon.

"…Adding just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat--picture a piece of steak no bigger than a deck of cards--to one's daily diet was associated with a 13 percent greater chance of dying during the course of the study.

"Even worse, adding an extra daily serving of processed red meat, such as a hot dog or two slices of bacon, was linked to a 20 percent higher risk of death during the study.

"'Any red meat you eat contributes to the risk,' said An Pan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead author of the study, published online Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine."

Far be it from me to argue with a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, but after a brief look through the study, I take issue with the premise that "any red meat" increases the risk of death. By his definition, red meat is labelled as "beef, pork, or lamb," with no mention of deer, elk, or other venison.

Someone ought to point out to Mr. Pan that the same deck-of-card-sized cut of venison has just 135 calories and less than 3 grams of fat, compared to the 183 calories and 8-plus grams of fat for a similarly sized cut of beef.* You would have thought he would have learned not to generalize somewhere in his post-graduate studies, but then maybe they don't teach that at Harvard.

Whenever I read anything telling me what I should or shouldn't be eating, I think about my Grandpa Draper, who lived past his 88th birthday eating three squares a day, most of which included some type of red meat. For as long as I can remember, there was a little sign above his desk that said, quite simply: "Stop worrying. You'll never get out of this world alive."