A large study on meat and mortality was published today (Arch Intern Med, 2009, 169: 562-571.) The paper concludes that "Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality." But my careful review of the paper suggests that it is total meat intake rather than color that is important, consistent with my earlier observations on other similar studies.
I sent the following email to the corresponding author:
Dear Dr. Sinha,
I read with great interest your article "meat intake and mortality". I work on epigenetics and the role of diet in cancer. My latest paper here:
From Table 1 of your paper, it is shown that the group (Q5) with the highest red meat intake consumed 119 g/kcal of all meat combined. Can you share the data of total amount of all meat about the group with the highest white meat intake? My estimation based on your reported data for this group is 69 g/kcal.
So, it seems that people who mostly eat white meat consumed about 2 fold less total meat than people who eat red meat.
People with highest intake of white meat have lower risk of death than those with lowest intake, as you reported. But those with low intake of white meat actually consume more red meat and total meat in general (table 1).
Bottom line, your data overall shows a link between total amount of meat and mortality. The color of meat is irrelevant. I have made this observation before on the original papers by Willett linking red meat with colon cancer. see my book chapter in Cancer Epigenetics: http://www.amazon.com/Cancer-Epigenetics-Trygve-Tollefsbol/dp/1420045792/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226425804&sr=1-1
I wish that you could make a follow up revision and change the conclusion "Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality." to "Higher meat intake were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality."